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VTK version tracking and development is hosted by Git.

Official Repository

One may browse the repository online using the Gitweb interface at http://vtk.org/gitweb.


These instructions assume a command prompt is available with git in the path. See our Git download instructions for help installing Git.

One may clone the repository using git clone through the native git protocol:

$ git clone git://vtk.org/VTK.git VTK

or through the (less efficient) http protocol:

$ git clone http://vtk.org/VTK.git VTK

All further commands work inside the local copy of the repository created by the clone:

$ cd VTK

For VTKData the URLs are


For VTKLargeData the URLs are



At the time of this writing the repository has the following branches:

  • master: Development (default)
  • release: Release maintenance
  • nightly-master: Follows master, updated at 01:00 UTC
  • hooks: Local commit hooks (place in .git/hooks)

Release branches converted from CVS have been artificially merged into master. Actual releases have tags named by the release version number.


We provide here a brief introduction to VTK development with Git. See the Resources page for further information such as Git tutorials.

Quick Start Guide

If you would like to get up and running quickly, we recommend you follow the simple Git guide. It will guide you through getting your development environment setup, working on topic branches and merging your changes back into master.


We require all commits in VTK to record valid author/committer name and email information. Use git config to introduce yourself to Git:

$ git config --global user.name "Your Name"
$ git config --global user.email "you@yourdomain.com"

Note that "Your Name" is your real name (e.g. "John Doe", not "jdoe"). While you're at it, optionally enable color output from Git commands:

$ git config --global color.ui auto

The --global option stores the configuration settings in ~/.gitconfig in your home directory so that they apply to all repositories.


The hooks branch provides local commit hooks to be placed in .git/hooks. It is shared by many public.kitware.com repositories.

See the general hooks information page to set up your local hooks.


We have now moved to use a branchy workflow, branchy workflow based on topic branches. We do not have a next integration branch at this point, and so you should ignore any reference to that and merge straight to master. The next section describes use of the topic stage, simplified guide can be followed using supplied scripts and aliases.


If you have a patch that you want to be considered for inclusion in VTK, you can submit it to gerrit.

Register on Gerrit

To register on gerrit, use the following steps:

  1. Get an OpenID
  2. Register at http://review.source.kitware.com using your OpenID (link in upper right)
  3. Set all fields in your profile at http://review.source.kitware.com/#settings
  4. Add your ssh public key at http://review.source.kitware.com/#settings,ssh-keys

Submit to Gerrit

You will then be ready to submit patches. A typical patch for gerrit will be a topic branch that includes a single commit. Your topic branch should be based on either the release or the master, depending on where you want it to go. An example workflow is as follows:

  1. git checkout master
  2. git pull (i.e. get your local repository up-to-date)
  3. git checkout -b topic-branch-to-create
  4. - make your changes
  5. - commit your changes
  6. git gerrit-push
  7. - go to http://review.source.kitware.com/ and add reviewers for your patch, or post an email to the vtk-developers list

Revise a Gerrit submission

The reviewers are likely to ask you to revise your submission before it can be merged into VTK. The easiest way to do this is by amending and re-pushing the commit that forms your topic branch:

  1. - edit the files, use "git add" on each edited file
  2. git commit --amend
  3. - make sure the last line of your commit includes the Change-Id for your topic (see below)
  4. git gerrit-push
Change-Id: I173af11bcd9e42805acf2a2b1ea73e4c6e01dfa5

If you made multiple commits to your topic branch, you must squash them into a single commit before pushing to gerrit:

  1. git rebase HEAD~2 (the number depends on how many commits you want to squash)
  2. - make sure the last line of your commit includes the Change-Id for your topic (see above)
  3. git gerrit-push

Merge a Gerrit topic into VTK

If you have commit access for VTK, you can merge your topic into VTK, otherwise you will have to ask one of your reviewers to do so:

  1. git stage-push
  2. git stage-merge

Topic Stage

We provide a "VTK Topic Stage" repository to which developers may publish arbitrary topic branches and request automatic merges. To follow this workflow, you should have git version 1.7 or greater.

The topic stage URLs are

See our Topic Stage Workflow documentation for general instructions. (Currently VTK does not have a next branch. Just skip that part of the instructions and merge directly to master.) When accessing the VTK stage, one may optionally substitute "ssh git@vtk.org stage VTK ..." for "ssh git@public.kitware.com stage <repo> ..." in the ssh command-line interface.

Stage Usage Summary

Initial Setup:

$ git remote add stage git://vtk.org/stage/VTK.git
$ git config remote.stage.pushurl git@vtk.org:stage/VTK.git

Fetch Staged Topics:

$ git fetch stage --prune

Create Local Topic:

$ git checkout -b topic-name origin/master
$ edit files
$ git commit

Stage Current Topic:

$ git push stage HEAD

Print Staged Topics:

$ ssh git@vtk.org stage VTK print

Merge Staged Topic:

$ ssh git@vtk.org stage VTK merge topic-name

Check out Staged Topic:

$ git fetch stage
$ git checkout -b topic-name remotes/stage/topic-name

Abandon/Delete Staged Topic:

$ git push stage :topic-name

If the merge attempt conflicts follow the printed instructions.


The VTK repository is mirrored on github. Experimental branches that are not ready for staging can be published on github for review.

The first step in creating a github branch is to create an account on github and make a fork of http://github.com/Kitware/VTK. Since this fork will be a mirror of the VTK master, there is no need to clone it on your local machine. Instead, you will just want to set github as an alternative remote in your existing local copy of the VTK git repository.

To set github as an alternative remote, use the following commands:

Github Usage Summary

Remote Setup:

$ git remote add github git@github.com:yourname/VTK.git
$ git config remote.github.pushurl git@github.com:yourname/VTK.git

Update the Remote:

# update from Kitware's master and push to github
$ git pull
$ git push github HEAD

Push Branch to Github:

$ git checkout -b some-branch github/master
# edit files and commit changes
$ git push github HEAD

The second step above should be done regularly on your master, in order to keep your github fork up-to-date with the VTK master. Do not use github's graphical interface for merging commits, it creates new commits by rebasing the commits you select against your VTK fork. These new commits will be very difficult to merge back into VTK master.

The checkout command in the third step will automatically set github as the default remote for the new branch, but you still must specify "github HEAD" when you push or else you will push to the github master branch, instead of pushing to a new github branch. Also, since it bases the branch on your github fork, you should perform step 2 before creating the branch to make sure that your fork is up-to-date. This is just a suggestion, as it is always possible to rebase or merge at a later time.

The default remotes for each of your branches are controlled by entries such as this in your .git/config file:

[branch "my-branch-name"]
	remote = github
	merge = refs/heads/my-branch-name

You can edit this file to make github the default remote and to set the remote branch name for your existing branches. Or you can always use "git push github HEAD" to push each branch to github, without changing the defaults.



Authorized developers may publish work directly to vtk.org/VTK.git using Git's SSH protocol. To request access, fill out the Kitware Password form.

See the push instructions for details.

For VTK, configure the push URL:

git config remote.origin.pushurl git@vtk.org:VTK.git

For VTKData, configure the push URL:

git config remote.origin.pushurl git@vtk.org:VTKData.git

Update Hook

The vtk.org repository has an update hook. When someone tries to push changes to the repository it checks the commits as documented here.


Contributions of bug fixes and features are commonly produced by the community. Patches are a convenient method for managing such contributions.

One may send patches after subscribing to our mailing list:

See our patch instructions for details.


fatal: The remote end hung up unexpectedly

  • If git push fails with "fatal: The remote end hung up unexpectedly", you probably forgot to set the push url with "git config" see #Pushing.

Restoring files locally

Q: "I cloned the VTK repository. Now I "rm -rf Hybrid". How do I get it back?"
A: git checkout Hybrid
Q: "I modified a file locally. I want to revert it."
A: git checkout myfile.cxx
Q: "I want to get rid of all local changes in this directory and start clean."
A: git checkout .


Additional information about Git may be obtained at sites listed here.