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We are the developers of Plastic SCM, a full version control stack (not a Git variant). We work on the strongest branching and merging you can find, and a core that doesn't cringe with huge binaries and repos. We also develop the GUIs, mergetools and everything needed to give you the full version control stack.

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We also code SemanticMerge, and the gmaster Git client.

Configuring ignored items on your workspace

Thursday, November 27, 2014 2 Comments

There are files that you don’t want to submit to version control. Private IDE settings, intermediate build result files, binaries and so on.
This blog post explains you how to handle this in Plastic, manually editing the ignore.conf file. Alternatively you can ignore files using the GUI as explained in the User Guide. Whether you end up using the GUI or editing the file, this blog post will help you understanding how the ignore rules work.

Why do you need to ignore files

This is a familiar scenario that every developer can relate to. You have your workspace nicely set up and linked to its appropriate version control repository. All source files are checked in and organized.
But what happens after you build your project?
Lots of binary files will be created and the version control system will detect them as new!
You might experience the same issue with any other kind of non-permanent file: IDE settings files, temporary files created while you are testing your code, etc.
Obviously, you don’t want these files to be checked in; it could mean you have to review an unnecessarily long list of changes every time you want to check in source code modifications.
Or worse: if you decide to forget about these files and just check them in, your changesets will be cluttered with irrelevant information, making traceability more difficult and allowing errors to slip through.
But don’t worry! This is where the Plastic SCM ignored items come into play.

What is an ignored file

In Plastic SCM, an ignored item is just a private item which will not be added to the pending changes list unless explicitly told so. This is achieved by placing rules inside a file called ‘ignore.conf’, located at the workspace root path. Each private item whose path is matched by one of those rules will be ignored.

How ignored files work

To better understand how this works, let’s have a look at an example.
If you use Microsoft Visual Studio as your IDE, binary files are placed by default at directories called ‘bin’ and ‘obj’.
As we discussed above, you usually wish to prevent those files from being detected as private/new. It’s as simple as adding the following lines to the ‘ignore.conf’ file:
This means that any directory called ‘bin’ or ‘obj’ -along with all of their children, recursively- will be matched and, therefore, excluded from the private objects list.
We can see the result on the next two figures: at first we have almost 100 private files created by the compiler, whereas once we add the rules we see just some IDE settings files (and the ‘ignore.conf’ file, of course!).
These are the pending changes after the build:

And then the pending changes view after the binary directories are configured to be ignored:

Advanced ignore rules

Naturally, the rule format is not limited to directory names. You can also choose to ignore all .suo files by just adding a new rule:
This will remove the three remaining private files in our example (see next image), leaving our pending changes view with our ‘ignore.conf’ file alone. Now we would like it to be ignored too, but we don’t want any other item to be affected. We just want to ignore that specific file, instead of every .conf file or every file called ‘ignore.conf’ (we might have more in our workspace tree that we need to be included at some point). The appropriate rule is:

We can see the results on the next figure: the main ignore.conf has disappeared but some new .conf files haven’t been ignored.

Also, we can decide to remove the AssemblyInfo.cs files from version control. We would just need to delete them on Plastic SCM and then add a line like this in our ‘ignore.conf’ file:
Please note that the rules are case sensitive, so we have to type them accordingly.

Exception rules

But we’re not done yet! Plastic SCM supports exception rules, too. Exception rules are regular rules, preceded by the ‘!’ symbol, that have the opposite effect: they force private items to be always present as new items. To illustrate this, let’s say that there’s a specific binary directory that we want to include if it appears. We only need to specify it as an exception rule:
This will bring back the bin/ results directory of the LibGit2Sharp project.

Wildcard expansion

Both kinds of rules support wildcard expansion. For example: we wish to ignore all files and directories under directories called ‘temp’ but we don’t want .log files directly under them to be ignored. This behavior will be implemented using the following rules:
In the previous example, a “**” string means “any character” whereas the single ‘*’ character means “any character excluding path separators”.


So, this is it! In this post we’ve covered the different possibilities of ignoring private items that Plastic SCM offers, as well as some combinations of them. Feel free to experiment with your own workspace, and don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in our forum!


  1. How do you comment an ignore.conf file?

    It's important to know why something is being ignored...

    1. Simple, just start the line with #.

      # this is a comment