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RE: Newbie: update vs. checkout

From: Jim.Hyslop
Subject: RE: Newbie: update vs. checkout
Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 17:11:18 -0400

bill wrote:
> Thanks!  The fog is lifting.  One question that remains has to do
> with update/checkout after tagging/rtagging.  It is actually the
> exact same question about four different cases:
>   cvs  tag    Some_Tag
>   cvs  tag -b Some_Branch_Tag
>   cvs rtag    Some_Tag        MyProject
>   cvs rtag -b Some_Branch_Tag MyProject
> I've read that one has to call either checkout or update (I can't
> remember which) right after doing cvs tag?  (Something about cvs
> tag not affecting the working copy, so that if one wants to work
> on a tagged copy one has to checkout/update.)
Well, the answer is the same whether you're using tag or rtag, so there are
really two distinct cases: branches and non-branches.

For non-branch tags, you *cannot* modify them, so if you've applied a
non-branch tag you probably do not want to update to that tag. On the other
hand, if you've just applied a branch tag, then you may or may not want to
update to that tag - it depends whether you want to work on the branch or on
the trunk.

> The manual (4.6, p. 37) actually recommends using cvs rtag rather
> than cvs tag for most situations, because rtag will tag even those
> checked-in files for which no copy exists in the current working
> directory.
Well, that's certainly one valid use case. There are other, equally valid
use-cases for not using rtag.

Look at it this way: if you are applying a tag, why is the file not in your
working directory? Are you trying to apply the tag to a subset of the files
- in which case you *don't* want to use rtag?

I generally use tag, but it's mostly a matter of personal preference.

Jim Hyslop
Senior Software Designer
Leitch Technology International Inc. (
Columnist, C/C++ Users Journal (

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