1. Marcin Kasperski
  2. mercurial/path_pattern



Mercurial Path Pattern

Don't repeat yourself defining [paths] over many repositories, specify the general rule once in ~/.hgrc.

Path Pattern is a Mercurial extension used to define default remote path aliases. You may find it helpful if you maintain consistently layed out repository trees on a few machines. drone-badge

Path Pattern mostly works behind the courtains, making standard commands like hg pull, hg push, and hg incoming aware of extra paths. Still, it implements some commands, in particular hg cloneto «path-alias» (clone to remote address specified by short name).

1   Using path patterns

Install the extension as described below.

1.1   Simple example

Write in your ~/.hgrc:

mercurial_path_pattern =

lagrange.local = ~/devel/{repo}
lagrange.remote =  ssh://johny@lagrange.mekk.net/sources/{repo}
bbssh.local = ~/devel/public/{below}
bbssh.remote = ssh://hg@bitbucket.org/Johny/{below:/=-}

Imagine ~/devel/personal/blog/drafts and ~/devel/public/pymods/acme are both some mercurial repositories. Then:

cd ~/devel/personal/blog/drafts
hg push lagrange
# Works, pushes to ssh://johny@lagrange.mekk.net/sources/personal/blog/drafts

cd ~/devel/public/pymods/acme
hg pull lagrange
# Works, pulls from ssh://johny@lagrange.mekk.net/sources/public/pymods/acme
hg pull bbssh
# Works too, pulls from ssh://hg@bitbucket.org/Johny/pymods-acme

This works in spite of the fact, that those repos lack .hg/hgrc.

For two repositories that's not very useful, but once you have hundred of them, managing individual .hg/hgrc becomes a hassle (imagine changing lagrange.mekk.net to lagrange.mekk.com everywhere, or maybe adding second remote alias for the new development machine).


On Windows extension tries to handle (in .local specifications) both native paths (C:\repos\sth) and portable ones (C:/repos/sth), but it is recommended to use the latter. Whichever syntax is used, extracted {fragments} contain / (so they can be easily used in remote urls).

1.2   Overriding repository-level paths

By default path patterns have lower priority than per-repository paths, so in case you define lagrange path on repository level, it won't be overwritten by the pattern. You can augment it by adding .enforce:

lagrange.local = ~/devel/{repo}
lagrange.remote =  ssh://johny@lagrange.mekk.net/sources/{repo}
lagrange.enforce = true

With such config pattern wins against any path from .hg/hgrc (usually it is not recommended but can be handy if you have some broken path scattered around repositories).

1.3   Reusing the same alias

To (re)use the same alias in a few different locations, use ALIAS.XTRA.local and ALIAS.XTRA.remote keys, where XTRA is something unique. For example:

production.main.local = ~/devel/{repo}
production.main.remote = ssh://www-owner@www.acme.org/public/{repo}
production.beta.local = ~/experiments/{repo}
production.beta.remote = ssh://www-owner@beta.acme.org/public/{repo}

would let you hg push production not only in ~/devel/website/blog but also in ~/experiments/website/qagame (pushing to www.acme.org in the former, and to beta.acme.org in the latter case). Whether this is a good idea, is up to you.

2   Clone-supporting commands

2.1   Using cloneto

The cloneto command makes it easier to clone repository to remote url:

hg cloneto lagrange
# Equivalent to
#   hg clone . ssh://johny@lagrange.mekk.net/sources/pymodules/acme
# but noticeably shorter

which works both for normal paths and paths derived from patterns, but is especially handy with patterns. In particular, it makes it possible to push newly created repository, for example:

cd ~/devel/libs
hg init xyz
cd xyz
hg cloneto lagrange
# Works, creates sources/libs/xyz on johny@lagrange.mekk.net


While cloneto is particularly useful with patterns, it works for usual paths as well. You can write (new) path to repository-level .hg/hgrc, then hg cloneto «new-name».

2.2   Instead of clonefrom

There is no clonefrom command (at least for now), but it is not really needed. The following works (imagine libs/zzz exists on lagrange.mekk.net, but is not yet cloned here):

cd ~/devel/libs
hg init zzz
cd zzz
hg pull lagrange

3   Testing pattern configuration

The standard:

hg paths

command lists paths defined for current repository, after pattern expansion. Use it (in a few different repositories) to verify whether your patterns generate proper paths.


hg list_path_patterns

command prints all patterns found in configuration. Use it to detect typos causing some patterns to be ignored and to check the final result of configuration processing.

4   Pattern syntax

4.1   Introduction

Patterns are defined in [path_pattern] section of mercurial configuration file (typically ~/.hgrc). You may have as many patterns as you like. Example illustrating various syntax elements:

lagrange.local = ~/devel/{repo}
lagrange.remote =  ssh://johny@lagrange.mekk.net/sources/{repo}
euler.local = ~/devel/{repo}
euler.remote =  ssh://johny@euler.mekk.net/devel/{repo:/=.}/hg
wrk.local = ~/work/{what}
wrk.remote =  https://tim@devel-department.local/{what:/=__:\=__}
ugly.local = ~/(topic)/sources/{subpath}/repo
ugly.remote = ssh://hg{topic}@devel.local/{topic}/{subpath}
cfg.dotcfg.local = ~/.config/{repo}
cfg.dotcfg.remote = ssh://hgrepos@central.com/configs/riemann-config/{repo}
cfg.dotshr.local = ~/.local/share/{repo}
cfg.dotshr.remote = ssh://hgrepos@central.com/configs/riemann-local/{repo}
official.hgstable.local = ~/tracked/mercurial/hg-stable
official.hgstable.remote = http://selenic.com/repo/hg-stable
official.thg.local = ~/tracked/mercurial/tortoisehg-stable
official.thg.remote = https://bitbucket.org/tortoisehg/thg
official.evolve.local = ~/tracked/mercurial/mutable-history
official.evolve.remote = https://bitbucket.org/marmoute/mutable-history

4.2   Pattern definition

Every pattern is defined by the pair of keys - «alias».local and «alias».remote - or, in case the same alias is to be used in a few places, by «alias».«sth».local and «alias».«sth».remote (where «sth» is anything making the key unique).

While processing patterns, the extension matches current repository root path against local pattern, and if it matches, calculates remote path by filling markers present there, and defines the path alias.

The .local part should specify absolute repository path (~ and ~user are allowed). Some part(s) of the path may be replaced with {brace} or (paren) markers:

  • {brace} matches everything aggressively (to the very end, unless some fixed text follows it),
  • (paren) is limited to single path item and does not cross / or \\ characters).

Those parts will be extracted from local repository path and available for use in remote path being defined.


Typically there will be single {marker} on the end, but more obscure patterns are possible (as ugly above illustrates).

Markers are optional, if no marker is used (see official above), rule applies to exactly one repository. This may make sense (over defining path in given repo .hg/hgrc) if you prefer to centralize your remote paths list (or if you frequently drop those repos to re-clone them again later).

The .remote part defines appropriate remote address. This is typical Mercurial remote path, but {marker}'s can be used to refer to values extracted from local path: {sth} is replaced with whatever matched {sth} or (sth) present in local path.

Simple modifications are supported – {sth:x=y} means take whatever was extracted as sth and replace any x with y. This is mostly used to replace / with some other character (in particular {below:/=-} handles BitBucket convention, replacing slashes with minuses). Replacements can be multi-letter, for example {sth:lib=library}.

Replacements can be chained if necessary – {sth:x=y:v=z} means take whatever was extracted as sth, replace any x with y, then replace any v with z, then use the final result.


In case multiple patterns of the same name match, extension tries to find best one. See Pattern priority chapter below.

4.3   Resolution example

With definitions quoted above, if you happen to work inside the ~/devel/python/libs/webby repository, the extension will:

  1. Find that lagrange.local matches and that {repo} is python/libs/webby. Filling lagrange.remote with that value generates ssh://johny@lagrange.mekk.net/sources/python/libs/webby, so the following path alias is created: lagrange=ssh://johny@lagrange.mekk.net/sources/python/libs/webby
  2. Discover that euler.local also matches, and {repo} is again python/libs/webby. After replacing /-s with .-s, that brings alias euler=ssh://johny@euler.mekk.net/devel/python.libs.webby/hg
  3. Ignore remaining patterns as they do not match.

Or, in ~/tracked/mercurial/tortoisehg-stable, the extension will:

  1. Note that official.thg.local matches (at this time without defining anything), extract matching path from official.thg.remote, and finally generate for this repository path official = https://bitbucket.org/tortoisehg/thg (so hg pull official works there). Note that the path alias is just official, the .thg. part was used only to group appropriate config items.
  2. Ignore remaining patterns which do not match.

4.4   Legacy syntax

For compatibility reasons, there exist alternative way to reuse the same path alias. For example, instead of (currently recommended):

production.web.local = ~/devel/web/{repo}
production.web.remote = ssh://product@acme.org/www/{repo}
production.db.local = ~/devel/database/{repo}
production.db.remote = ssh://product@backend.acme.org/db/{repo}
production.monit.local = ~/devel/monitoring/{repo}
production.monit.remote = ssh://product@monit.acme.org/{repo}

one can use .alias:

production.local = ~/devel/web/{repo}
production.remote = ssh://product@acme.org/www/{repo}
dbproduction.db.local = ~/devel/database/{repo}
dbproduction.db.remote = ssh://product@backend.acme.org/db/{repo}
dbproduction.alias = production
monproduction.local = ~/devel/monitoring/{repo}
monproduction.remote = ssh://product@monit.acme.org/{repo}
monproduction.alias = production

Both those syntaxes give meaning to hg push production in all matching repositories.


I keep supporting .alias syntax for backward compatibility (it was the initial syntax provided for the task) but it is more elaborate and less readable, so I don't recommend it anymore.

5   Pattern priority

It is possible to write patterns so they conflict (more than one definition of some path exists). While not frequent, such approach has sometimes it's uses.

Path aliases have the following priority:

  • enforced patterns (patterns with .enforce set),
  • per repo aliases (standard [paths] defined in .hg/hgrc),
  • non-enforced patterns.

So, for example, with:

acme.local = ~/devel/{repo}
acme.remote =  ssh://johny@apps.mekk.net/code/{repo}
acme.enforce = true
acme.alt.local = ~/devel/libs/{repo}
acme.alt.remote =  ssh://johny@libs.mekk.net/{repo}

(both patterns define the same alias acme) executing hg push acme in ~/devel/libs/calc will push to ssh://johny@apps.mekk.net/code/libs/calc as enforced pattern wins over non-enforced one. The same will happen even if acme is defined in per-repository .hg/hgrc (among standard [paths]).

If more than one pattern of the same strength matches, extension tries it's best to pick one with more specific local path, for example if we drop acme.enforce from the example above (or if we add acme.alt.enforce), executing hg push acme in ~/devel/libs/calc will push to ssh://johny@libs.mekk.net/calc as more specific pattern wins.


It's not always obvious which pattern is more specific (compare ~/(klass)/libs/base with ~/src/{repo}). Current implementation looks for the length of non-varying prefix (so the latter will win over the former as ~/src/ is longer than ~/). If those are of equal length, pattern with more non-var characters wins, and finally, the one which happened last in the config file.

Some details may change in the future, use enforce when in doubt (or let me know if numeric priority would be useful).

6   Tips and tricks

6.1   default as path pattern

You can define default via path pattern if you wish:

default.hobby.local = ~/hobby/{repo}
default.hobby.remote =  ssh://hg@bitbucket.org/Johny/{below:/=-}
default.wrk.local = ~/work/{what}
default.wrk.remote =  https://tim@devel-department.local/{what}

(here in ~/hobby I push to bitbucket by default, but in ~/work to department server).


Mercurial will sooner or later define default path in per-repository .hg/hgrc files. Enforce your patterns (default.hobby.enforce = true) if you need to defeat those settings. Or don't, if you want those patterns for defaults only.

6.2   Special treatment of specific repositories

It happens that some repository (or a few) does not match the general rule. In such a case, one can simply overwrite given alias on repository level, or use pattern priority.

My real example is Keyring Extension repository. While I generally use dash (-) as path separator (so Path Pattern is located at /Mekk/mercurial-path_pattern and Dynamic Username at /Mekk/mercurial-dynamic_username), keyring repo predates this convention and is named /Mekk/mercurial_keyring. So I solve this by:

# By default bitbucket mirrors my dir structure replacing / with -
bbssh.local = ~/devel/{below}
bbssh.remote = ssh://hg@bitbucket.org/Mekk/{below:/=-}
# … but there are overrides
bbssh.keyring.local = ~/devel/mercurial/keyring
bbssh.keyring.remote = ssh://hg@bitbucket.org/Mekk/mercurial_keyring

Of course I could achieve the same by defining bbssh among [paths] in ~/devel/mercurial/keyring/.hg/hgrc file, but pattern technique have some advantages:

  • as I share and sync snippet of my ~/.hgrc between machines, this definition automatically propagates everywhere, and I don't need to remember about adding path to the new clone,
  • it leaves all paths in one place where I can review them together,
  • it can be expanded to whole subtree if necessary.

6.3   Keeping non-standard remote paths as patterns

The same trick can be used for maintaining list of remotes. For example here is my way to have hg pull official handy in various tracked repositories:

official.hgstable.local = ~/tracked/hg-stable
official.hgstable.remote = http://selenic.com/repo/hg-stable
official.thg.local = ~/tracked/tortoise-hg
official.thg.remote = https://bitbucket.org/tortoisehg/thg/
# …

Of course I could enter those paths directly inside .hg/hgrc, but those definitions can be synced between machines, and survive in case I discard the repo in charge for some time.

6.4   Separating (and sharing) pattern configuration

In case the pattern list grows bigger, I recommend moving patterns into the separate config file. For example, write in ~/.hgrc:

%include ~/configs/mercurial/path_pattern.hgrc

and then store all patterns in path_pattern.hgrc:


Extra benefit of such approach is that it makes sharing the file easier (in my case ~/configs/mercurial is by itself Mercurial repository which I share over my various development machines, and which contains all non-machine specific snippets of my Mercurial configuration).

7   Installation

7.1   Linux/Unix (from PyPI)

If you have working pip or easy_install:

pip install --user mercurial_path_pattern

or maybe:

sudo pip install mercurial_path_pattern

(or use easy_install instead of pip). Then activate by:

mercurial_path_pattern =

To upgrade, repeat the same command with --upgrade option, for example:

pip install --user --upgrade mercurial_path_pattern

7.2   Linux/Unix (from source)

If you don't have pip, or wish to follow development more closely:

  • clone both this repository and mercurial_extension_utils and put them in the same directory, for example:

    cd ~/sources
    hg clone https://bitbucket.org/Mekk/mercurial-extension_utils/
    hg clone https://bitbucket.org/Mekk/mercurial-path_pattern/
  • update to newest tags,

  • activate by:

    mercurial_path_pattern = ~/sources/mercurial-path_pattern/mercurial_path_pattern.py

To upgrade, pull and update.

Note that directory names matter. See mercurial_extension_utils for longer description of this kind of installation.

7.3   Windows

If you have any Python installed, you may install with pip:

pip install mercurial_path_pattern

Still, as Mercurial (whether taken from TortoiseHg, or own package) uses it's own bundled Python, you must activate by specifying the path:

mercurial_path_pattern = C:/Python27/Lib/site-packages/mercurial_path_pattern.py
;; Or wherever pip installed it

To upgrade to new version:

pip --upgrade mercurial_path_pattern

If you don't have any Python, clone repositories:

cd c:\hgplugins
hg clone https://bitbucket.org/Mekk/mercurial-extension_utils/
hg clone https://bitbucket.org/Mekk/mercurial-path_pattern/

update to tagged versions and activate by path:

mercurial_path_pattern = C:/hgplugins/mercurial-path_pattern/mercurial_path_pattern.py
;; Or wherever you cloned

See mercurial_extension_utils documentation for more details on Windows installation.


Directory names matter. If mercurial_path_pattern.py can't find mercurial_extension_utils.py in system path, it looks for it in its own directory, in ../mercurial_extension_utils, and in ../extension_utils.

10   Development, bug reports, enhancement suggestions

Development is tracked on BitBucket, see https://bitbucket.org/Mekk/mercurial-path_pattern/

Use BitBucket issue tracker for bug reports and enhancement suggestions.

11   Additional notes

Information about this extension is also available on Mercurial Wiki: http://mercurial.selenic.com/wiki/PathPatternExtension

Check also other Mercurial extensions I wrote.