This post is dedicated to Arcanist, a command-line interface to Phabricator. Phabricator is a set of tools that help KDE build better software, faster.

Various command-line based solutions out there help developers to acheive good workflow across features and projects(Git, Mercurial et al); Arcanist takes the same approach, but feels a lot more practical to me.

Arcanist User Guide states thus:- > Arcanist provides command-line access to many Phabricator tools (like Differential, Files, and Paste), integrates with static analysis ("lint") and unit tests, and manages common workflows like getting changes into Differential for review.

Setting up Arcanist

The two dependencies to Arcanist are – git and php. Install them using sudo pacman -S git php (or equivalent for your distro).

Then you can install Arcanist itself. It was as simple as yay -S arcanist for me.

Other distros’ users may want to look for Installing Arcanist subsection in Arcanist quick start.

Next up, get the source code of the project you wish to work on by cloning it from cgit.

Now then, let’s dive into development! 🤖

Development with Arcanist

  1. You may find an interesting bug from KDE’s bug tracker or task from your project’s Workboard.

  2. Always create a feature branch/ bookmark before touching any file in a clean clone. Use arc feature for it.

    arc feature name_of_feature_branch
  3. Poke around, play with the code, do your thing.

  4. When ready to submit a patch, type in arc diff. This will also help you maintain your submitted patches. Complete the following forms, that look like:-

  1. That’s it! Your patch is submitted for review! You also get a link to share with others and see how the submission looks on Phabricator!

  2. Continue hacking on another bug or Task, and wait for the review on the submiited patch!

>Remember to make a different feature branch beforehand!


The world is not perfect, and many-a-times the reviewers will suggest changes to the patch before flashing the green light. Just revisit the branch, do the changes required, and hit arc diff again!

If you’re not sure about this, use arc diff --preview. I always use it before associating a diff with a submission! 😉

arc patch

You can always try out any submitted patch along with the latest master by using the arc patch command!

arc patch D18812

This command will do the following in definite order:-

  1. create a new feature branch with name arcpatch-D18812.
  2. apply patch D18812.
  3. set local tracking to the local branch arcpatch-D18812.
  4. checkout arcpatch-D18812 feature branch.

Don’t worry, even if it’s an old patch, Phabricator remembers the master branch commit the current patch was based on! As an example:- >If you pull a particularly old patch, say D16553, I get a branch based on commit 657dec, whereas the current HEAD of master is 708bcb !

arc feature

Suppose you were at master in your clone, and you do arc feature some_name. Now, some_name branch will be set to track the local master, as in if you commit anything to just the local copy of master that you have, and then git checkout some_name, git will ask you to perform "git pull" as your current branch is behind by some commits.


doing git pull in some_name will import the changes from the last branch you checkouted, before arc feature some_name.

arc land

Perform arc land after you have completed the following checklist:-

  • [ ] Your submitted patch has been accepted by reviewers.
  • [ ] The reviewer(s) have EXPLICITLY tasked you to land the patch.
  • [ ] You do have a Developer Access Account in order to land the patch.

arc land automatically rebases (and errors if that failed), so you don’t have to do that manually, unlike Git.

This quickstart should be enough to get you started on KDE’s Phabricator and setting sail on some binary adventures!