Contributing to Mercurial through Heptapod

This document summarizes the contribution and review process for contributing to Mercurial using Heptapod.

Heptapod is a friendly fork of GitLab Community Edition that also supports Mercurial. is a public instance for Free and Open-Source Software (more information here).

⚠ We recommend you start with the Quickstart Guide from Heptapod itself

1. For Contributors

This section will present the workflow from a contributor's perspective.

1.1. Building Your Changes

Each contribution should be made in a series of small and independent patches, see ContributingChanges.

That series of changesets must be part of a topic, a form of lightweight branching provided by the topic extension.

We strongly recommend you enable the evolve extension too from the same Python package. This is covered by Heptapod's Quickstart Guide

1.2. Joining the Project on Heptapod

You need to create an account on and request Developer access to the project by clicking the link just under the logo, it should be granted to you very quickly.

People from Octobus have plans to improve the drive-by contribution experience to remove this step, but the development effort required is non-trivial.

1.3. Sharing and testing your changes

While developing your changes, you can push them to Heptapod to test a full CI run1 or get early feedback from specific people pre-review.

When you push to Heptapod, you will be offered a link to create a Merge Request (MR) in the CLI. Follow that link to create a MR. Don't worry, you can also create the MR later through the web UI.

Note: you can skip the CI if you don't need it yet and want to be a nice neighbor with hg push -r REV --pushvars ci.skip=

You can create a MR early in the development process to make it easier to follow (for example, to have a unique URL to check the results of CI runs), however please mark your MR as "Draft" until it is ready for review. This is done using the pre-built button in Gitlab.

1.4. Submitting your change for review

When your changes are ready for review, simply take the following actions:

The change will then be picked up by reviewers who will provide feedback and eventually accept it.

(There is currently a bug in upstream GitLab that sometimes shows bot users (such as "Mercurial Review") as "****", don't worry if that happens and look for

1.5. Discussing and applying feedback

If some aspect of your patches needs to be clarified or changed, reviewers will:

When this happens you should apply the feedback and answer the questions using the comment system. Please make sure you use the threading system for clarity.

Do not mark the thread as resolved, that's the reviewer's responsibility.

Once all feedback and questions have been answered, you should put your series back in the review queue by marking it as "Ready" again.

1.6. When your series is accepted

In the general case, your series will eventually be accepted and become part of the main history.

You don't need to do anything, the changesets will get published (in the Mercurial sense), the topic will fade away and the MR will be automatically detected as "merged". If the changesets needed a rebase or some small adjustment, changeset evolution will keep track of that for you and a simple hg evolve after pulling should be enough.

1.7. Getting a series out of the review queue

If a series needs to be stashed away or if lengthy rework is expected, it is useful to get it out of the review queue. To do so:

1.8. Fully abandoning a series

If you want to fully abandon a series, keep track of your topic parent (usually s0 in hg stack), then simply use hg prune -r topic(mytopic) and push the (former) parent of that topic hg push --rev TOPIC_PARENT to remove them from the server. (Pro-tip: any descendant of the topic parent will work)

2. For reviewers

This section will present the workflow from a reviewer's perspective.

Note that for email patches, you will need to send a merge request with the emailed patch series to wait for the CI to complete and merge the change. You do not need to add "Mercurial Review" to reviewers, this is only a special case to ensure that pre-landing CI is done for email patches.

2.1. Setup

First setup yourself to contribute through Heptapod.

Second, add this to your configuration. This is very important to prevent you to publish content by mistake.. People from Octobus are working on making this a server-side check soon, for now this is the best we've got.


2.2. Checking for series that need review

These are all non-"Draft" series with "Mercurial Review" as a reviewer.

Here's a bookmark:

2.3. Providing feedback on a review

If a series needs changes or clarification: - Comment to provide feedback and use threads as much as possible, - Mark the MR as "Draft"

As a general rule, comments about a specific changeset should go on its diff, and comments about the whole series should go to the general discussion page.

The reviewer (you), is responsible for marking thread as resolved. This will be made easy to remember because merging is disallowed through the Web UI when conversations are not resolved.

2.4. Approving a Series

There is an Approve button on MR, click it and your approval will be visible in the UI. This is useful for users that don't have merge rights or simply to signify "Looks good, but I want someone else to also look at this".

2.5. "Merging" the change

Note: this is the GitLab notion of merge which does not necessarily mean a merge changeset. In our case, we will forbid merge changesets and only allow fast-forward merging.

If a series is ready to be merged, click the merge button.

Merging a series is only possible if the CI passed, discussion are resolved and the changes are rebased on the current branch head.

If you want to partially merge a series, create a new topic with a new MR to do so. This validates that the CI is happy about the change you are about to merge.

3. References

3.1. Series States

Here is a summary of the states a series can be in.

Reviewer is "Mercurial Review"

Marked "Draft"

Has approvals





Series is not part of the review queue and will not be considered




Series needs answers or rework from the author




Series is waiting for review




Series has been pre-reviewed and needs a second review

4. Current issues

4.1. Per-commit thread

We cannot currently easily comment on the commit message. Gitlab is actively working on it. The effort can be tracked here:

In the meantime, people can still quote commit messages in regular comments and use the first line of the commit for example.

4.2. Stacked topics

Work on improving these issues is underway from Octobus, but it takes time, so please bear with us. Help is always appreciated.

5. External tooling

It is fairly easy to connect automation to Gitlab, currently nothing of the sort (that could work well with Mercurial) has been written, but if someone wants to enforce some of our convention with a bot, please go ahead.

Example actions that could be useful to script:

  1. Please note that we may change this automatic-CI-on-push policy in the future if the stress on the CI is too large, restricting it to Merge Requests only. (1)

Heptapod (last edited 2022-05-25 13:48:14 by RaphaelGomes)