Git --distributed-even-if-your-workflow-isnt

2.6 Git Basics - Tagging

Tagging

Like most VCSs, Git has the ability to tag specific points in history as being important. Generally, people use this functionality to mark release points (v1.0, and so on). In this section, you’ll learn how to list the available tags, how to create new tags, and what the different types of tags are.

Listing Your Tags

Listing the available tags in Git is straightforward. Just type git tag:

$ git tag
v0.1
v1.3

This command lists the tags in alphabetical order; the order in which they appear has no real importance.

You can also search for tags with a particular pattern. The Git source repo, for instance, contains more than 240 tags. If you’re only interested in looking at the 1.4.2 series, you can run this:

$ git tag -l 'v1.4.2.*'
v1.4.2.1
v1.4.2.2
v1.4.2.3
v1.4.2.4

Creating Tags

Git uses two main types of tags: lightweight and annotated. A lightweight tag is very much like a branch that doesn’t change — it’s just a pointer to a specific commit. Annotated tags, however, are stored as full objects in the Git database. They’re checksummed; contain the tagger name, e-mail, and date; have a tagging message; and can be signed and verified with GNU Privacy Guard (GPG). It’s generally recommended that you create annotated tags so you can have all this information; but if you want a temporary tag or for some reason don’t want to keep the other information, lightweight tags are available too.

Annotated Tags

Creating an annotated tag in Git is simple. The easiest way is to specify -a when you run the tag command:

$ git tag -a v1.4 -m 'my version 1.4'
$ git tag
v0.1
v1.3
v1.4

The -m specifies a tagging message, which is stored with the tag. If you don’t specify a message for an annotated tag, Git launches your editor so you can type it in.

You can see the tag data along with the commit that was tagged by using the git show command:

$ git show v1.4
tag v1.4
Tagger: Scott Chacon <schacon@gee-mail.com>
Date:   Mon Feb 9 14:45:11 2009 -0800

my version 1.4

commit 15027957951b64cf874c3557a0f3547bd83b3ff6
Merge: 4a447f7... a6b4c97...
Author: Scott Chacon <schacon@gee-mail.com>
Date:   Sun Feb 8 19:02:46 2009 -0800

    Merge branch 'experiment'

That shows the tagger information, the date the commit was tagged, and the annotation message before showing the commit information.

Signed Tags

You can also sign your tags with GPG, assuming you have a private key. All you have to do is use -s instead of -a:

$ git tag -s v1.5 -m 'my signed 1.5 tag'
You need a passphrase to unlock the secret key for
user: "Scott Chacon <schacon@gee-mail.com>"
1024-bit DSA key, ID F721C45A, created 2009-02-09

If you run git show on that tag, you can see your GPG signature attached to it:

$ git show v1.5
tag v1.5
Tagger: Scott Chacon <schacon@gee-mail.com>
Date:   Mon Feb 9 15:22:20 2009 -0800

my signed 1.5 tag
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.4.8 (Darwin)

iEYEABECAAYFAkmQurIACgkQON3DxfchxFr5cACeIMN+ZxLKggJQf0QYiQBwgySN
Ki0An2JeAVUCAiJ7Ox6ZEtK+NvZAj82/
=WryJ
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
commit 15027957951b64cf874c3557a0f3547bd83b3ff6
Merge: 4a447f7... a6b4c97...
Author: Scott Chacon <schacon@gee-mail.com>
Date:   Sun Feb 8 19:02:46 2009 -0800

    Merge branch 'experiment'

A bit later, you’ll learn how to verify signed tags.

Lightweight Tags

Another way to tag commits is with a lightweight tag. This is basically the commit checksum stored in a file — no other information is kept. To create a lightweight tag, don’t supply the -a, -s, or -m option:

$ git tag v1.4-lw
$ git tag
v0.1
v1.3
v1.4
v1.4-lw
v1.5

This time, if you run git show on the tag, you don’t see the extra tag information. The command just shows the commit:

$ git show v1.4-lw
commit 15027957951b64cf874c3557a0f3547bd83b3ff6
Merge: 4a447f7... a6b4c97...
Author: Scott Chacon <schacon@gee-mail.com>
Date:   Sun Feb 8 19:02:46 2009 -0800

    Merge branch 'experiment'

Verifying Tags

To verify a signed tag, you use git tag -v [tag-name]. This command uses GPG to verify the signature. You need the signer’s public key in your keyring for this to work properly:

$ git tag -v v1.4.2.1
object 883653babd8ee7ea23e6a5c392bb739348b1eb61
type commit
tag v1.4.2.1
tagger Junio C Hamano <junkio@cox.net> 1158138501 -0700

GIT 1.4.2.1

Minor fixes since 1.4.2, including git-mv and git-http with alternates.
gpg: Signature made Wed Sep 13 02:08:25 2006 PDT using DSA key ID F3119B9A
gpg: Good signature from "Junio C Hamano <junkio@cox.net>"
gpg:                 aka "[jpeg image of size 1513]"
Primary key fingerprint: 3565 2A26 2040 E066 C9A7  4A7D C0C6 D9A4 F311 9B9A

If you don’t have the signer’s public key, you get something like this instead:

gpg: Signature made Wed Sep 13 02:08:25 2006 PDT using DSA key ID F3119B9A
gpg: Can't check signature: public key not found
error: could not verify the tag 'v1.4.2.1'

Tagging Later

You can also tag commits after you’ve moved past them. Suppose your commit history looks like this:

$ git log --pretty=oneline
15027957951b64cf874c3557a0f3547bd83b3ff6 Merge branch 'experiment'
a6b4c97498bd301d84096da251c98a07c7723e65 beginning write support
0d52aaab4479697da7686c15f77a3d64d9165190 one more thing
6d52a271eda8725415634dd79daabbc4d9b6008e Merge branch 'experiment'
0b7434d86859cc7b8c3d5e1dddfed66ff742fcbc added a commit function
4682c3261057305bdd616e23b64b0857d832627b added a todo file
166ae0c4d3f420721acbb115cc33848dfcc2121a started write support
9fceb02d0ae598e95dc970b74767f19372d61af8 updated rakefile
964f16d36dfccde844893cac5b347e7b3d44abbc commit the todo
8a5cbc430f1a9c3d00faaeffd07798508422908a updated readme

Now, suppose you forgot to tag the project at v1.2, which was at the "updated rakefile" commit. You can add it after the fact. To tag that commit, you specify the commit checksum (or part of it) at the end of the command:

$ git tag -a v1.2 -m 'version 1.2' 9fceb02

You can see that you’ve tagged the commit:

$ git tag
v0.1
v1.2
v1.3
v1.4
v1.4-lw
v1.5

$ git show v1.2
tag v1.2
Tagger: Scott Chacon <schacon@gee-mail.com>
Date:   Mon Feb 9 15:32:16 2009 -0800

version 1.2
commit 9fceb02d0ae598e95dc970b74767f19372d61af8
Author: Magnus Chacon <mchacon@gee-mail.com>
Date:   Sun Apr 27 20:43:35 2008 -0700

    updated rakefile
...

Sharing Tags

By default, the git push command doesn’t transfer tags to remote servers. You will have to explicitly push tags to a shared server after you have created them. This process is just like sharing remote branches — you can run git push origin [tagname].

$ git push origin v1.5
Counting objects: 50, done.
Compressing objects: 100% (38/38), done.
Writing objects: 100% (44/44), 4.56 KiB, done.
Total 44 (delta 18), reused 8 (delta 1)
To git@github.com:schacon/simplegit.git
* [new tag]         v1.5 -> v1.5

If you have a lot of tags that you want to push up at once, you can also use the --tags option to the git push command. This will transfer all of your tags to the remote server that are not already there.

$ git push origin --tags
Counting objects: 50, done.
Compressing objects: 100% (38/38), done.
Writing objects: 100% (44/44), 4.56 KiB, done.
Total 44 (delta 18), reused 8 (delta 1)
To git@github.com:schacon/simplegit.git
 * [new tag]         v0.1 -> v0.1
 * [new tag]         v1.2 -> v1.2
 * [new tag]         v1.4 -> v1.4
 * [new tag]         v1.4-lw -> v1.4-lw
 * [new tag]         v1.5 -> v1.5

Now, when someone else clones or pulls from your repository, they will get all your tags as well.