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Merging Branches

When you have finished the changes on a certain branch, you will often want to incorporate them into the file's main line of development (the trunk). This is not a trivial operation, because development might also have proceeded on the trunk, so that you must merge the changes into a file that has already been changed otherwise. VC allows you to do this (and other things) with the vc-merge command.

C-x v m (vc-merge)
Merge changes into the work file.

C-x v m (vc-merge) takes a set of changes and merges it into the current version of the work file. It first asks you for a branch number or a pair of version numbers in the minibuffer. Then it finds the changes from that branch, or between the two versions you specified, and merges them into the current version of the current file.

As an example, suppose that you have finished a certain feature on branch 1.3.1. In the meantime, development on the trunk has proceeded to version 1.5. To merge the changes from the branch to the trunk, first go to the head version of the trunk, by typing C-u C-x C-q RET. Version 1.5 is now current. If locking is used for the file, type C-x C-q to lock version 1.5 so that you can change it. Next, type C-x v m 1.3.1 RET. This takes the entire set of changes on branch 1.3.1 (relative to version 1.3, where the branch started, up to the last version on the branch) and merges it into the current version of the work file. You can now check in the changed file, thus creating version 1.6 containing the changes from the branch.

It is possible to do further editing after merging the branch, before the next check-in. But it is usually wiser to check in the merged version, then lock it and make the further changes. This will keep a better record of the history of changes.

When you merge changes into a file that has itself been modified, the changes might overlap. We call this situation a conflict, and reconciling the conflicting changes is called resolving a conflict.

Whenever conflicts occur during merging, VC detects them, tells you about them in the echo area, and asks whether you want help in merging. If you say yes, it starts an Ediff session (see section `Ediff' in The Ediff Manual).

If you say no, the conflicting changes are both inserted into the file, surrounded by conflict markers. The example below shows how a conflict region looks; the file is called `name' and the current master file version with user B's changes in it is 1.11.

<<<<<<< name
  User A's version
  User B's version
>>>>>>> 1.11

Then you can resolve the conflicts by editing the file manually. Or you can type M-x vc-resolve-conflicts after visiting the file. This starts an Ediff session, as described above.

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