Conveniently merge a NEWS file without conflicts

Writing a NEWS file (a list of changes per version, targeted at end-users) significantly reduces the effort for doing a release: To write your release notes, just copy the latest entries from the NEWS file into a message. It is one of the gems in the GNU coding standards: Simple yet extremely useful. (For a detailed realization, refer to the Perl Specification for CPAN Changes files.)

However when you’re developing features in parallel, for example by using a pull-request workflow and requiring contributors to update the NEWS file, you will often run into merge conflicts. Resolving these takes time, though the resolution is trivial: Just use the lines from both heads.

To resolve the problem, you can set your version tracking system to use union-merge for NEWS files.

Table of Contents

Mercurial

echo "
[merge-patterns]
# avoid bogus conflicts in NEWS files
NEWS = internal:union
" >> .hg/hgrc

(necessary for each contributor to avoid surprising users)

Git

echo "/NEWS merge=union" >> .gitattributes
git add .gitattributes
git commit -m "union-merge NEWS" .gitattributes

(committed, so it sticks, but might mislead contributors into missing genuine conflicts, because a contibutor does not necessarily know about the setting)

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