dpw / vendetta

A minimal tool for managing golang project dependencies as submodules

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The go dependency management tool for people who don't like go dependency management tools.


Vendetta is a minimal tool for managing the dependencies in the vendor directory of a go project. Go supports such directories from version 1.5, but doesn't provide a way to manage their contents. Vendetta is less obtrusive than other go dependency management tools because it relies on git submodules. You don't need vendetta to build a project, or for most other development tasks. Vendetta is just used to populate the vendor directory with submodules, or to update them when a project's dependencies change. Because it uses git submodules, your project repository remains small, and it is easy to relate the contents of the vendor directory back to their origin repositories.


If you have your GOPATH set up:

go get github.com/dpw/vendetta

This will install vendetta in $GOPATH/bin

If you don't:

git clone https://github.com/dpw/vendetta.git && (cd vendetta ; go build)

The vendetta binary will be in the cloned vendetta directory.


Usage: vendetta [options] [directory]

The directory specified should be the top-level directory of the git repo that holds your Go project. If it is omitted, the current directory is used.

Like go get, vendetta identifies any missing packages needed to build your top-level project (including packages needed by other dependencies). It then finds the projects containing those missing packages, and runs the git commands to add submodules for them.

When you clone a project with submodules, as produced by vendetta, the submodule directories will initially be empty. Do git submodule update --init --recursive in order to retrieve the submodule contents.

Vendetta follows all the relevant Go conventions, such as ignoring testdata directories.


  • -p: Prune unneeded submodules under vendor/.

  • -u: Update dependencies of your project. This pulls from the remote repositories for required submodules under vendor/.


Go 1.5 introduced the Go Vendor feature. This provides support in the standard go tool set for vendor directories which contain the source code for dependencies of a project. Note that in Go 1.5, you must set the GO15VENDOREXPERIMENT environment variable to enable this feature; but Go 1.6 enables it by default.

The Go Vendor feature is a significant step forward for dependency management in go. But out of the box, it does not provide a way to populate the vendor directory for a project with its dependencies, or manage those dependencies as the project evolves. Trying to do this by hand is cumbersome and error prone.

Other go vendoring tools are available. But they support two approaches: Either they copy the source code of dependencies into vendor/, which bloats the repository of your project. Or, they write a dependency metadata file under vendor/ which says how to get the dependencies. But then anyone who wants to build the project needs to use a specific tool to retrieve the dependencies. (And there is no dominant standard for the dependency metadata files – there are even two different formats for a file called vendor.json.)

Instead, vendetta relies on the submodule feature of git, which provides a way for one git repository to point to another git repository (and a specific commit within it). And submodules are a standard feature of git, so git will retrieve them for you. You may already have experience with submodules. And tools built on top of git understand submodules (e.g. github knows about submodules, and will display a submodule pointing to another project on github as a link).

When you clone a repository containing submodules, you need to do git submodule update --init --recursive in order to retrieve the submodule contents. This step is sometimes surprising to those new to git submodules. But it can be hidden by incorporating it into build scripts or makefiles. And go get will do git submodule update after cloning a repo, so it is not necessary to run it explicitly when fetching go packages in that way.

A downside of git submodules is that, being a git-specific feature, they only allow dependencies that live in (or are mirrored to) git repositories. But given the prevalence of git within the go community, and the ease of mirroring other VCSes to git, this is not much of a limitation.


A minimal tool for managing golang project dependencies as submodules

License:BSD 2-Clause "Simplified" License


Language:Go 100.0%