Running with scissors: overriding latest_revision SVN check in Capistrano

Eric Pugh ā€” July 19, 2006

Ruby as a language sometimes feels like you are running with scissors. Its great to get from A to B quickly with your scissors, but there is a chance you may trip and impale yourself!

Today I was struggling with overriding what revision Capistrano uses when checking code out of Subversion as a hack to get around the lack of support for svn+ssh:// connectivity. Be default Capistrano makes a check from your local box for the latest revision, and then uses that to check out content on the remote box. However I wanted to skip the check from my local box and just pass in ā€œHEADā€ as the revision name.

My first solution was just to hack up the Subversion class and hard code the @latest_revision to be ā€œHEADā€. But I realized what an ugly solution tweaking my gem was!

After banging my head a bit, I realized that Ruby is a dynamic language, and I can do all sorts of magic that maybe I shouldnt be doing. It was time to use instance_variable_set!

I added :before_update_code that allows me to manually set the revision in my deploy.rb and therefore bypass the check:

task :before_update_code, :roles => [:web, :app] do
  revision = "HEAD"
  puts "Revision to be deployed is #{revision}"

It does kind of make me wonder if all those OOP rules about encapsulation no longer apply!

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