Attributes are really powerful, but it's not clear what parts of monotone should respond to them, what should be hookable, etc. To figure this out, here are some use cases for attributes:

  • turn on content encoding/decoding
    • built-in merger cares about this
    • reading/writing working copy files cares about this
  • turn on line ending munging
    • built-in merger cares about this
    • reading/writing working copy files cares about this
  • custom mergers -- "invoke this program when I merge these openoffice documents"
    • built-in merger should not try to merge these files
    • user mergers (MTN_MERGE env var) should not be run
  • turn on CVS-keyword munging
    • reading/writing working copy files cares about this
  • nested trees -- a magic attribute that says "hey, this placeholder directory here should have a check out of revision ..., branch ...", somehow plays nicely with updates and commits in that branch.
    • this needs a more detailed design to understand
    • "update" and "checkout" need to be hookable, at least, so the subtree can be updated/checked out
    • reading working copy attrs may need to care about this
  • ...add more

One thought immediately occurred to me when first starting to work with attributes:

Why are attributes not more like certificates? They seem to express the same type of 'statements about something' only about files instead of revisions. Starting with the .26 series of monotone, the attributes are attached to the first class objects of file and directory types, so to me it would make sense to treat attributes as certificates on those objects, with all the same rules that apply for certificates too with respect to signing, selectors, automating etc. On the other hand, attrs are included in the revision, while certs are not.

I've been playing for a while with implementing bugtracking directly inside a working directory. Starting with the new attributes in .26 this has gotten a whole lot easier. Attributes can comfortably be used to say, when a bugreport is stored as a file in the working dir somewhere, attach extra metainfo to that bugreport through attributes. Having the bugreports directly revisioned and distributed like the code you're tracking bugs for has obvious advantages.

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