Performing bulk changes across Git(Hub) Repos with Turbolift and Microplane

Over the years, there have been many times I've needed to roll out changes across dozens of repositories. Sometimes it's been to do a bulk find-and-replace to avoid deprecation warnings, to introduce shared configuration for Renovate, or to tweak what commands are used to build the project.

I've mostly written one-off scripts for this, but recently one of my colleagues pointed me towards Microplane which she's been using for automation. As I had some changes to make over a few dozen repos this week, I gave it some real-world usage, and found it made the changes much eaiser.

As I was preparing to write this post about using it, I thought I'd look at some of the other options out there for this functionality and found Turbolift, which also looks quite nice, and this gives me a good chance to play with it too.

Below we'll look at how Microplane and Turbolift make the following change to a GitHub Actions Workflow:

 name: Build project
 on: [push, pull_request]
     name: Build
     runs-on: ubuntu-latest
       - name: Check out source code
         uses: actions/checkout@v3

       - name: Set up Go
         uses: actions/setup-go@v3
           go-version-file: 'go.mod'

       - name: Test
-        run: go test ./...
+        run: make test


Using Microplane, we would run:

echo jamietanna/bulk-changes-repo > repos.txt
mp init -f repos.txt
mp clone
# alternatively add a `-d` flag to see a diff of the changes proposed
mp plan --branch microplane/makefile --message 'Use make tasks for consistency' -- sed -i 's|go test ./...|make test|' .github/workflows/build.yml
mp push --assignee jamietanna

This produces this PR.

Microplane then has a handy way of allowing you to check the status of the open PRs by syncing, and then running status:

mp sync
2023/01/21 14:46:16 syncing: jamietanna/bulk-changes-repo
2023/01/21 14:46:17 synced: jamietanna/bulk-changes-repo
mp status
REPO                    STATUS          DETAILS
bulk-changes-repo       pushed          status:πŸ•  assignee:jamietanna

This can then be auto-merged, with the ability to prevent merging broken builds:

mp merge
2023/01/21 14:48:30 jamietanna/bulk-changes-repo - merging...
2023/01/21 14:48:32 jamietanna/bulk-changes-repo - merge error: Build status was not 'success', instead was 'pending'. Use --ignore-build-status to override this check.
2023/01/21 14:48:32 Build status was not 'success', instead was 'pending'. Use --ignore-build-status to override this check.

I have noticed that being an organisation admin means that you can sometimes merge without status checks or reviews being required - beware!


With Turbolift, we would run:

turbolift init --name use-makefile
cd use-makefile
echo jamietanna/bulk-changes-repo > repos.txt
# --no-fork in this case because the repo is owned by me
turbolift clone --no-fork
# note the quotes around the script
turbolift foreach "sed -i 's|go test ./...|make test|' .github/workflows/build.yml"
# alternatively, `cd` into the repo under the work directory and modify as needed
turbolift foreach git add .github/workflows/build.yml
turbolift commit --message 'Use make tasks for consistency'
# edit the PR description through the contents of
turbolift create-prs

This produces this PR.

Turbolift doesn't yet have the ability to list the status of PRs raised by it, or to merge them automagically.


Having used Turbolift for even this trivial example, I have to say there are a few things that make it nicer to work with compared to Microplane:

  • the ability to edit the repositories directly, if you'd like
  • not neding to have a single script / step to complete the repository's work
  • being able to provide a more meaningful PR message
  • having a single workspace per set of bulk changes (called a campaign in Turbolift nomenclature), whereas multiple uses of Microplane lose the context for existing sets of PRs open

Turbolift also appears to be more recently maintained, which is positive. It's a shame that GitLab support isn't available in Turbolift, but I'll definitely look at whether it's something I can contribute to work across my various repositories.

I'm looking forward to the next time I need to reach for Turbolift, as it feels like it's going to be a good "go to" tool to reach for.

Written by Jamie Tanna's profile image Jamie Tanna on , and last updated on .

Content for this article is shared under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International, and code is shared under the Apache License 2.0.

#blogumentation #git #github #turbolift #microplane #automation.

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