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Using depot_tools

View the updated depot_tools documentation here. These same docs are also available as man pages. 
Not all the information on this page has been migrated to the man pages yet, so this resource will stay around for a while, but where there are discrepancies, the man pages should be considered authoritative.

The depot_tools tutorial walks through a few key scenarios like managing branches.


Chromium uses a package of scripts, the depot_toolsto manage interaction with the Chromium source code repository and the Chromium development process. It contains the following utilities:
  • gclient: Meta-checkout tool managing both subversion and git checkouts. It is similar to repo tool except that it works on Linux, OS X, and Windows and supports both svn and git. On the other hand, gclient doesn't integrate any code review functionality.
  • gcl: Rietveld code review tool for subversion. The gcl tool runs presubmit scripts.
  • git-cl: Rietveld code review tool for git. The git-cl tool runs presubmit scripts.
  • svn [Windows only]: subversion client for Chromium development. (Executable Subversion binaries are included in the depot_tools on Windows systems as a convenience, so that working with Chromium source code does not require a separate Subversion download.)
  • drover: Quickly revert svn commits.
  • Checks for C++ style compliance.
  • pylint: Checks for Python style compliance.
  • Runs presubmit checks.
  • repo: The repo tool.
  • wtf: Displays the active git branches in a chromium os checkout.
  • weekly: Displays the log of checkins for a particular developer since a particular date for git checkouts.
  • git-gs: Wrapper for git grep with relevant source types.
  • zsh-goodies: Completion for zsh users.
It is highly encouraged to look around and open the files in a text editor as this page can quickly become outdated.
Please keep this page the man pages updated!


See the depot_tools_tutorial for set-up instructions.


These tools don't have man pages but have integrated help! Try all of these commands! If the doc is not adequate, send patches to fix them.
  • gclient help
    • It works for subcommands too like: gclient help sync
  • git-cl help
    • It works for subcommands too like: git-cl help patch
Otherwise, there are many great text editors that can help you out to read what the tools are actually doing.


gclient is a python script to manage a workspace of modular dependencies that are each checked out independently from different subversion or git repositories. Features are:
  • Dependencies can be specified on a per-OS basis.
  • Dependencies can be specified relative to their parent dependency.
  • Variables can be used to abstract concepts.
  • Hooks can be specified to be run after a checkout.
  • .gclient and DEPS are python scripts, you can hack in easily or add additional configuration data.

.gclient file

It's the primary file. It is, in fact, a python script. It specifies the following variables:
  • solutions: an array of dictionaries specifying the projects that will be fetched.
  • hooks: additional hooks to be run when this meta checkout is synced.
  • target_os: an optional array of (target) operating systems to fetch OS-specific dependencies for.
  • cache_dir: Primarily for bots, multiple working sets use a single git cache. See --cache-dir.
Additional variables are ignored.

Each project described in the solutions array can contain an optional DEPS file that will be processed. The .gclient file is generated with gclient config <url> or by hand. Each solutions entry is a dictionary that can contain the following variables:
  • name: really, the path of the checkout.
  • url: the remote repository to fetch/clone.
  • custom_deps: (optional) override the dependencies specified in the deps and deps_os variables in child DEPS files. Useful when you want to fetch a writable checkout instead of the default read-only checkout of a dependency, e.g. you work on native_client from a chromium checkout.
  • custom_vars: (optional) override the variables defined in vars in child DEPS files. Example: override the WebKit version used for a chromium checkout.
  • safesync_url: (optional) url to fetch to retrieve the revision to sync this checkout to. 

DEPS file

A DEPS file specifies dependencies of a project. It is in fact a python script. It specifies the following variables:
  • deps: a dictionary of child dependencies to fetch.
  • deps_os: a dictionary of OSes for OS-specific dependencies, each containing a dictionary of child dependencies to fetch.
  • vars: a dictionary of variables to define. Mainly useful to easily override a batch of revisions at once.
  • hooks: hooks to run after a sync.
  • use_relative_paths: relative paths should specify the checkout relative to this directory instead of the root gclient checkout.
Additional variables are ignored. Special keywords are:
  • File(): used for dependencies, specify to expect to checkout a file instead of a directory.
  • From(): used to fetch a dependency definition from another DEPS file, for chaining.
  • Var(): replace this string with a variable defined in vars or overridden.

Pinned deps

Each dependency checkout URL can (and usually does) contain a revision number or git hash, which means you're going to check out and build from that specific revision of the module in question. We call that pinned deps. The advantage is that you can build from a known working revision, even if it comes from a completely different SCM repository or going back in time. The drawback is you have to update the revision number(s) constantly, what we call deps rolls.

DEPS examples

Chromium's src/DEPS is a fairly complex example that will show all the possibilities of a DEPS file.

Sending patches

 Contributing code is done the same way as in other Chromium repositories.

Disabling auto update

The gclient and git-cl scripts are actually wrapper scripts that will, by default, always update the depot_tools to the latest versions of the tools checked in at If for some reason you wish to disable this auto-update behavior, either:
  • Set the environment variable DEPOT_TOOLS_UPDATE=0.
  • Remove depot_tools/.git. This may be appropriate if you choose to install depot_tools in a common location for use by multiple users (for example, /usr/local/bin on a Linux system).
Note: If you aren't using either of these helper scripts (e.g. you're developing Chromium OS), then you will need to manually update depot_tools yourself from time to time with a simple: git pull


Chromium engineers expect the auto-updating behavior of depot_tools, checkout or presubmit breakage may ensue.
Subpages (2): gclient Presubmit Scripts