Forge User and Developer Manual

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Forge User and Developer Manual

Forge allows you to work with Git forges, such as Github and Gitlab, from the comfort of Magit and the rest of Emacs.

This manual is for Forge version 0.1.0 (v0.1.0-376-gab3be5a7+1).

Copyright (C) 2018-2021 Jonas Bernoulli <jonas@bernoul.li>

You can redistribute this document and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This document is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.


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1 Introduction

Forge allows you to work with Git forges, such as Github and Gitlab, from the comfort of Magit and the rest of Emacs.

Forge fetches issues, pull-requests and other data using the forge’s API and stores that in a local database. Additionally it fetches the pull-request references using Git. Forge implements various features that use this data but the database and pull-request refs can also be used by third-party packages.


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2 Supported Forges and Hosts

Currently Forge supports two forges and three more forges partially. Additionally it supports four semi-forges. Support for more forges and semi-forges can and will be added.

Both forges and semi-forges provide web interfaces for Git repositories. Forges additionally support pull-requests and issues and make those and other information available using an API.

When a forge is only partially supported, then that means that only the functionality that does not require the API is implemented, or in other words, that the forge is only supported as a semi-forge.

A host is a particular instance of a forge. For example the hosts https://gitlab.com and https://salsa.debian.org are both instances of the Gitlab forge. Forge supports some well known hosts out of the box and additional hosts can easily be supported by adding entries to the option forge-alist.

For more details about the caveats mentioned below (and some others) also see Getting Started.

2.1 Supported Forges

2.2 Partially Supported Forges

2.3 Supported Semi-Forges


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3 Getting Started

Getting started using Forge should be fairly easy provide you take the time to read the documentation. First see (ghub)Getting Started from Ghub’s manual. Ghub is the library that Forge uses to communicate with forge APIs. While Ghub can be used independently of Forge, its "Getting Started" part was written with Forge users in mind.

Please begin reading in (ghub)Getting Started and then come back here and make sure to read the subsections.

Loading Magit doesn’t cause Forge to be loaded automatically. Adding something like this to your init file takes care of this:

(with-eval-after-load 'magit
  (require 'forge))

Or if you use use-package:

(use-package forge
  :after magit)

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3.1 Token Creation

Forge uses the Ghub package to access the APIs of supported Git forges. How this works and how to create and store a token is documented in (ghub)Getting Started.

Ghub used to provide a setup wizard, but that had to be removed for reasons given in the manual just mentioned. Nowadays there is no way around reading the documentation and doing this manually I am afraid.

Forge requires the following token scopes.


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3.2 Initial Pull

To start using Forge in a certain repository visit the Magit status buffer for that repository and type f y (forge-pull). Alternatively, you can use M-x forge-add-repository, which makes it possible to add a forge repository without pulling all topics and even without having to clone the respective Git repository.

You must set up a token before you can add the first repository. See Token Creation.

The first time forge-pull is run in a repository, an entry for that repository is added to the database and a new value is added to the Git variable remote.<remote>.fetch, which fetches all pull-requests. (+refs/pull/*/head:refs/pullreqs/* for Github)

forge-pull then fetches topics and other information using the forge’s API and pull-request references using Git.

The initial fetch can take a while but most of that is done asynchronously. Storing the information in the database is done synchronously though, so there can be a noticeable hang at the end. Subsequent fetches are much faster.

Fetching issues from Github is much faster than fetching from other forges because making a handful of GraphQL requests is much faster than making hundreds of REST requests.


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3.3 Repository Detection

Ghub does not associate a given local repository with a repository on a forge. The Forge package itself takes care of this. In doing so it ignores the Git variable ghub.host and other FORGE.host variables used by Ghub. (But github.user and other variables used to specify the user are honored). Forge associates the local repository with a forge repository by first determining which remote is associated with the upstream repository and then looking that up in forge-alist.

If only one remote exists, then Forge uses that unconditionally. If several remotes exist, then a remote may be selected based on its name.

The convention is to name the upstream remote origin. If you follow this convention, then you have to do nothing else and the remote by that name is automatically used, provided it exists and regardless of whether other remotes exist. If it does not exist, then no other remotes are tried.

If you do not follow the naming convention, then you have to inform Forge about that by setting the Git variable forge.remote to the name that you instead use for upstream remotes. For example, to use the upstream remote named "upstream":

cd /path/to/repo
git config --local forge.remote upstream

If this variable is set, then Forge uses the remote by that name, if it exists, the same way it may have used origin if the the variable were undefined. I.e. it does not fall through to try origin if no remote by your chosen name exists.

Once the upstream remote has been determined, Forge looks it up in forge-alist, using the host part of the URL as the key. For example the key for git@github.com:magit/forge.git is github.com.


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3.4 Caveats


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4 Usage

Once information has been pulled from a repository’s forge for the first time, Forge adds two additional sections, named "Pull requests" and "Issues" to Magit’s status buffer. It is also possible to add a repository to the local database without pulling all the data, which is useful if you want to create a single pull-request.

' a     (forge-add-repository)

This command adds a repository to the database.

It offers to either pull topics (now and in the future) or to only pull individual topics when the user invokes forge-pull-topic.

Some of Forge’s commands are only bound when point is within one of these sections but other commands are also available elsewhere in Magit’s status buffer and/or from Magit’s transient commands.

'     (forge-dispatch)

This prefix command is available in any Magit buffer and provides access to several of the available Forge commands. Most of these commands are also bound elsewhere, but some are not. See the following sections for information about the available commands.


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4.1 Pulling

The commands that fetch forge data are available from the same transient prefix command (magit-fetch on f) that is used to fetch Git data. If option magit-pull-or-fetch is non-nil, then they are also available from the magit-pull transient (on F).

f y     (forge-pull)

This command uses a forge’s API to fetch topics and other information about the current repository and stores the fetched information in the database. It also fetches notifications for all repositories from the same forge host. (Currently this is limited to Github.) Finally it fetches pull-request references using Git.

After using this command for the first time in a given repository the status buffer for that repository always lists the pull-requests and issues. See Initial Pull.

f Y     (forge-pull-notifications)

This command uses a forge’s API to fetch all notifications from that forge including, but not limited to, the notifications for the current repository.

Fetching all notifications fetches associated topics even if you have not started fetching all topics for the respective repositories (using forge-pull), but it does not cause the topics to be listed in the status buffer of such "uninitialized" repositories.

Note how pulling data from a forge’s API works the same way as pulling Git data does; you do it explicitly when you want to see the work done by others.

This is less disruptive, more reliable, and easier to understand than if Forge did the pulling by itself at random intervals. It might however mean that you occasionally invoke a command expecting the most recent data to be available and then have to abort to pull first. The same can happen with Git, e.g. you might attempt to merge a branch that you know exists but haven’t actually pulled yet.

M-x forge-pull-pullreq     (forge-pull-pullreq)

This command uses a forge’s API to fetch a single pull-request and stores it in the database.

Normally you wouldn’t want to pull a single pull-request by itself, but due to a bug in the Github API you might sometimes have to do so.

Fetching is implemented under the assumption that the API can be asked to list the things that have changed since we last checked. Unfortunately the APIs are not bug-free, so this is not always the case. Especially in closed-source software it can take years for issues to get fixed, so I am no longer delaying the initial Forge release because of that. If in doubt, then re-fetch an individual pull-request to ensure it is up-to-date using the command forge-pull-pullreq.


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4.2 Branching

Forge provides commands for creating and checking out a new branch or work tree from a pull-request. These commands are available from the same transient prefix commands as the suffix commands used to create and check out branches and work trees in a more generic fashion (magit-branch on b and magit-worktree on %).

b Y     (forge-branch-pullreq)

This command creates and configures a new branch from a pull-request, creating and configuring a new remote if necessary.

The name of the local branch is the same as the name of the remote branch that you are being asked to merge, unless the contributor could not be bothered to properly name the branch before opening the pull-request. The most likely such case is when you are being asked to merge something like "fork/master" into "origin/master". In such cases the local branch will be named "pr-N", where N is the pull-request number.

These variables are always set by this command:

This command also configures the upstream and the push-remote of the local branch that it creates.

The branch against which the pull-request was opened is always used as the upstream. This makes it easy to see what commits you are being asked to merge in the section titled something like "Unmerged into origin/master".

Like for other commands that create a branch, it depends on the option magit-branch-prefer-remote-upstream whether the remote branch itself or the respective local branch is used as the upstream, so this section may also be titled e.g. "Unmerged into master".

When necessary and possible, the remote pull-request branch is configured to be used as the push-target. This makes it easy to see what further changes the contributor has made since you last reviewed their changes in the section titled something like "Unpulled from origin/new-feature" or "Unpulled from fork/new-feature".

b y     (forge-checkout-pullreq)

This command creates and configures a new branch from a pull-request the same way forge-branch-pullreq does. Additionally it checks out the new branch.

% y     (forge-checkout-worktree)

This command creates and configures a new branch from a pull-request the same way forge-branch-pullreq does. Additionally it checks out the new branch using a new working tree.

When you delete a pull-request branch, which was created using one of the above three commands, then magit-branch-delete usually offers to also delete the corresponding remote. It does not offer to delete a remote if (1) the remote is the upstream remote, and/or (2) if other branches are being fetched from the remote.

Note that you have to delete the local branch (e.g. "feature") for this to work. If you delete the tracking branch (e.g "fork/feature"), then the remote is never removed.


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4.3 Working with Topics

We call both issues and pull-requests "topics". The contributions to the conversation are called "posts".


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4.3.1 Visiting Topics

Magit’s status buffer contains lists of issues and pull-requests. Topics are ordered by last modification time. All open issues and some recently edited and closed topics are listed.

Forge provides some commands that act on the listed topics. These commands can also be used in other contexts, such as when point is on a commit or branch section.

C-c C-w     (forge-browse-TYPE)
C-c C-w     (forge-browse-dwim)

These commands visit the pull-request(s), issue(s), post, branch, commit, or remote at point in a browser.

This is implemented using various commands named forge-browse-TYPE, and the key binding is defined by remapping magit-browse-thing (as defined in magit-mode-map). For commit sections this key is bound to forge-browse-dwim, which prefers a topic over a branch and a branch over a commit.

RET     (forge-visit-TYPE)
C-c C-v     (forge-visit-topic)

These commands visit the pull-request(s), issue(s), or repository in a separate buffer.

The RET binding is only available when point is on a issue or pull-request section because that key is already bound to something else for most of Magit’s own sections. C-c C-v however is also available on regular commit (e.g. in a log) and branch sections.

This is implemented using various commands named forge-visit-TYPE and the key binding is defined by remapping magit-visit-thing (as defined in magit-mode-map).


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4.3.2 Listing Topics and Notifications

By default Forge lists a subset of topics directly in the Magit status buffer. It also provides commands to list topics and notifications in separate buffers.

Forge adds the following two functions to magit-status-sections-hook:

Function: forge-insert-pullreqs

This function inserts a list of the most recent and/or open pull-requests.

Function: forge-insert-issues

This function inserts a list of the most recent and/or open issues.

Command: forge-toggle-closed-visibility

This command toggles whether the above two functions list recently closed issues in the current buffer.

The following three functions are also suitable for magit-status-sections-hook:

Function: forge-insert-assigned-pullreqs

This function inserts a list of open pull-requests that are assigned to you.

Function: forge-insert-requested-reviews

This function inserts a list of open pull-requests that are awaiting your review.

Function: forge-insert-authored-pullreqs

This function inserts a list of open pull-requests that are authored by you.

Function: forge-insert-assigned-issues

This function inserts a list of open issues that are assigned to you.

Function: forge-insert-authored-issues

This function inserts a list of open issues that are authored by you.

The following commands list repositories, notifications and topics in dedicated buffers:

' r     (forge-list-repositories)

This command lists all known repositories in a separate buffer.

' l     (forge-list-notifications)

This command lists all notifications for all forges in a separate buffer.

' P     (forge-list-pullreqs)

This command lists the current repository’s pull-requests in a separate buffer.

' I     (forge-list-issues)

This command lists the current repository’s issues in a separate buffer.

Command: forge-list-assigned-pullreqs

This command lists the current repository’s open issues that are assigned to you in a separate buffer.

Command: forge-list-assigned-issues

This command lists the current repository’s open pull-requests that are assigned to you in a separate buffer.

Command: forge-list-requested-reviews

This command lists pull-requests of the current repository that are awaiting your review in a separate buffer.

Command: forge-list-authored-pullreqs

This command lists the current repository’s open issues that are authored by you in a separate buffer.

Command: forge-list-authored-issues

This command lists the current repository’s open pull-requests that are authored by you in a separate buffer.

Command: forge-list-owned-pullreqs

This command lists open pull-requests from all the repositories that you own. Options forge-owned-accounts and forge-owned-ignored controls which repositories are considered to be owned by you. Only Github is supported for now.

Command: forge-list-owned-issues

This command lists open issues from all the repositories that you own. Options forge-owned-accounts and forge-owned-ignored controls which repositories are considered to be owned by you. Only Github is supported for now.

User Option: forge-owned-accounts

This is an alist of accounts that are owned by you. This should include your username as well as any organization that you own. Used by the commands forge-list-owned-issues, forge-list-owned-pullreqs and forge-fork.

Each element has the form (ACCOUNT . PLIST). The following properties are currently being used:

Example: (("tarsius") ("emacsmirror" :remote-name "mirror")).

User Option: forge-owned-ignored

This is a list of repository names that are considered to not be owned by you even though they would have been considered to be owned by you based on forge-owned-accounts.


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4.3.3 Creating Topics

' c p     (forge-create-pullreq)
C-c C-n [on "Pull requests" section]     (forge-create-pullreq)

This command creates a new pull-request for the current repository.

' c i     (forge-create-issue)
C-c C-n [on "Issues" section]     (forge-create-issue)

This command creates a new issue for the current repository.


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4.3.4 Editing Topics and Posts

We call both issues and pull-requests "topics". The contributions to the conversation are called "posts". The post that initiated the conversation is also called a post.

These commands are available only from the topic buffer (i.e. from the buffer that shows the posts on a topic). Other commands that also work in other buffers are available here also. For example C-c C-w on a post visits that post in a browser.

C-c C-n     (forge-create-post)
C-c C-r     (forge-create-post)

This command allows users to create a new post on an existing topic. It opens a buffer in which the user can write the post. When the post is done, then the user has to submit using C-c C-c.

If the region is active and marks part of an existing post, then that part of the post is quoted. Otherwise, or if a prefix argument is used, then the complete post that point is currently on is quoted.

C-c C-e [on a post section]     (forge-edit-post)

This command visits an existing post in a separate buffer. When the changes to the post are done, then the user has to submit using C-c C-c.

C-c C-e [on "Title" section]     (forge-edit-topic-title)

This command reads a new title for an existing topic in the minibuffer.

C-c C-e [on "State" section]     (forge-edit-topic-state)

This command toggles the state of an existing topic between "open" and "closed".

C-c C-e [on "Labels" section]     (forge-edit-topic-labels)

This command reads a list of labels for an existing topic in the minibuffer.

C-c C-e [on "Marks" section]     (forge-edit-topic-marks)

This command reads a list of marks for an existing topic in the minibuffer.

Marks are like labels except that they are not shared with anyone else. To create a mark that topics can subsequently be marked with use the command forge-create-mark. Existing marks can be edited using the command forge-edit-mark.

C-c C-e [on "Assignees" section]     (forge-edit-topic-assignees)

This command reads a list of assignees for an existing topic in the minibuffer.

C-c C-e [on "Review-Requests" section]     (forge-edit-topic-review-requests)

This command reads a list of people who you would like to review an existing topic in the minibuffer.

C-c C-e [on "Note" section]     (forge-edit-topic-note)
M-x forge-edit-topic-note     (forge-edit-topic-note)

This lets you edit your private note about a topic.

C-c C-k [on a comment section]     (forge-delete-comment)

This command deletes the comment at point.

Creating a new post and editing an existing post are similar to creating a new commit and editing the message of an existing commit. In both cases the message has to be written in a separate buffer and then the process has to be finished or canceled using a separate command.

The following commands are available in buffers used to edit posts:

C-c C-c     (forge-post-submit)

This command submits the post that is being edited in the current buffer.

C-c C-k     (forge-post-cancel)

This command cancels the post that is being edited in the current buffer.


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4.4 Miscellaneous

Command: forge-add-user-repositories

This command reads a host and a username from the user and adds all of that user’s repositories on that host to the local database.

This may take a while. Only Github is supported at the moment.

Command: forge-add-organization-repositories

This command reads a host and an organization from the user and adds all the organization’s repositories on that host to the local database.

This may take a while. Only Github is supported at the moment.

Command: forge-remove-repository

This command reads a repository and removes it from the local database.

Command: forge-remove-topic-locally

This command reads a topic and removes it from the local database. The topic is not removed from the forge and, if it is later modified, then it will be added to the database again.

Due to how the supported APIs work, it would be too expensive to automatically remove topics from the local datbase that were removed from the forge. The only purpose of this command is to allow you to manually clean up the local database.

Command: forge-reset-database

This command moves the current database file to the trash and creates a new empty database.

This is useful after the database’s table schemata have changed, which will happen a few times while the Forge functionality is still under heavy development.


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Appendix A FAQ


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A.1 Is it possible to create a single pull-request without pulling everything?

Yes. M-x forge-add-repository offers to add a repository to the database without also fetching all pull-requests and issues.


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Appendix B Keystroke Index

Jump to:   %   '  
B   C   F   M   R  
Index Entry  Section

%
% y: Branching

'
': Usage
' a: Usage
' c i: Creating Topics
' c p: Creating Topics
' I: Listing Topics and Notifications
' l: Listing Topics and Notifications
' P: Listing Topics and Notifications
' r: Listing Topics and Notifications

B
b Y: Branching
b y: Branching

C
C-c C-c: Editing Topics and Posts
C-c C-e [on "Assignees" section]: Editing Topics and Posts
C-c C-e [on "Labels" section]: Editing Topics and Posts
C-c C-e [on "Marks" section]: Editing Topics and Posts
C-c C-e [on "Note" section]: Editing Topics and Posts
C-c C-e [on "Review-Requests" section]: Editing Topics and Posts
C-c C-e [on "State" section]: Editing Topics and Posts
C-c C-e [on "Title" section]: Editing Topics and Posts
C-c C-e [on a post section]: Editing Topics and Posts
C-c C-k: Editing Topics and Posts
C-c C-k [on a comment section]: Editing Topics and Posts
C-c C-n: Editing Topics and Posts
C-c C-n [on "Issues" section]: Creating Topics
C-c C-n [on "Pull requests" section]: Creating Topics
C-c C-r: Editing Topics and Posts
C-c C-v: Visiting Topics
C-c C-w: Visiting Topics
C-c C-w: Visiting Topics

F
f y: Pulling
f Y: Pulling

M
M-x forge-edit-topic-note: Editing Topics and Posts
M-x forge-pull-pullreq: Pulling

R
RET: Visiting Topics

Jump to:   %   '  
B   C   F   M   R  

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Appendix C Command Index

Jump to:   F  
Index Entry  Section

F
forge-add-organization-repositories: Miscellaneous
forge-add-repository: Usage
forge-add-user-repositories: Miscellaneous
forge-branch-pullreq: Branching
forge-browse-dwim: Visiting Topics
forge-browse-TYPE: Visiting Topics
forge-checkout-pullreq: Branching
forge-checkout-worktree: Branching
forge-create-issue: Creating Topics
forge-create-issue: Creating Topics
forge-create-post: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-create-post: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-create-pullreq: Creating Topics
forge-create-pullreq: Creating Topics
forge-delete-comment: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-dispatch: Usage
forge-edit-post: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-edit-topic-assignees: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-edit-topic-labels: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-edit-topic-marks: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-edit-topic-note: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-edit-topic-note: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-edit-topic-review-requests: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-edit-topic-state: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-edit-topic-title: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-list-assigned-issues: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-assigned-pullreqs: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-authored-issues: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-authored-pullreqs: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-issues: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-notifications: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-owned-issues: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-owned-pullreqs: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-pullreqs: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-repositories: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-requested-reviews: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-post-cancel: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-post-submit: Editing Topics and Posts
forge-pull: Pulling
forge-pull-notifications: Pulling
forge-pull-pullreq: Pulling
forge-remove-repository: Miscellaneous
forge-remove-topic-locally: Miscellaneous
forge-reset-database: Miscellaneous
forge-toggle-closed-visibility: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-visit-topic: Visiting Topics
forge-visit-TYPE: Visiting Topics

Jump to:   F  

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Appendix D Function Index

Jump to:   F  
Index Entry  Section

F
forge-add-organization-repositories: Miscellaneous
forge-add-user-repositories: Miscellaneous
forge-insert-assigned-issues: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-insert-assigned-pullreqs: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-insert-authored-issues: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-insert-authored-pullreqs: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-insert-issues: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-insert-pullreqs: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-insert-requested-reviews: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-assigned-issues: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-assigned-pullreqs: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-authored-issues: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-authored-pullreqs: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-owned-issues: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-owned-pullreqs: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-list-requested-reviews: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-remove-repository: Miscellaneous
forge-remove-topic-locally: Miscellaneous
forge-reset-database: Miscellaneous
forge-toggle-closed-visibility: Listing Topics and Notifications

Jump to:   F  

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Appendix E Variable Index

Jump to:   F  
Index Entry  Section

F
forge-owned-accounts: Listing Topics and Notifications
forge-owned-ignored: Listing Topics and Notifications

Jump to:   F