The Fossil Ticket System

1.0 File Format

At its lowest level, the tickets of Fossil consist solely of ticket change artifacts. Each ticket change artifact corresponds to a single change to a ticket. The act of creating a ticket is considered a change.

Each ticket change artifact contains the following information:

To determine the current state of a particular ticket, Fossil orders the change artifacts for that ticket from oldest to most recent, then applies each change in timestamp order.

On each change artifact, there are one or more key/value pairs that implement the change. The key corresponds to a field of the ticket that is modified. The value may either replace the earlier value for that key, or the value may be appended to the prior value.

2.0 Ticket Tables

The low-level artifact format for ticket content is tedious and cumbersome to access in realtime. To facility reporting and display of tickets, the low-level artifact information is collected and summarized in a pair of SQL tables in each local repository. Display and reporting of tickets is accomplished by querying these two tables.

Note that only the low-level ticket change artifacts are synced. The content of the two ticket tables can always be reconstructed from the ticket change artifacts. And, indeed, the reconstruction of the ticket tables from low-level artifacts happens automatically whenever new ticket change artifacts are received by the system. The important point to remember is that display of tickets is accomplished using SQL tables but that recording and syncing of ticket information is accomplished using ticket change artifacts.

2.1 Ticket Table Schema

The two ticket tables are called TICKET and TICKETCHNG. The default schema (as of this writing) for these two tables is shown below:

  -- Do not change any column that begins with tkt_
  tkt_uuid TEXT UNIQUE,
  tkt_mtime DATE,
  tkt_ctime DATE,
  -- Add as many fields as required below this line
  type TEXT,
  status TEXT,
  subsystem TEXT,
  priority TEXT,
  severity TEXT,
  foundin TEXT,
  private_contact TEXT,
  resolution TEXT,
  title TEXT,
  comment TEXT
CREATE TABLE ticketchng(
  -- Do not change any column that begins with tkt_
  tkt_id INTEGER REFERENCES ticket,
  tkt_rid INTEGER REFERENCES blob,
  tkt_mtime DATE,
  -- Add as many fields as required below this line
  login TEXT,
  username TEXT,
  mimetype TEXT,
  icomment TEXT
CREATE INDEX ticketchng_idx1 ON ticketchng(tkt_id, tkt_mtime);

Generally speaking, there is one row in the TICKETCHNG table for each change to each ticket. In other words, there is one row in the TICKETCHNG table for each low-level ticket change artifact. The TICKET table, on the other hand, contains a summary of the current status of each ticket.

Fields of the TICKET and TICKETCHNG tables that begin with "tkt_" are used internally by Fossil. The logic inside of Fossil that converts ticket change artifacts into row data for the two ticket tables expects the "tkt_" fields to always be present. All of the other fields of the TICKET and TICKETCHNG tables are "user defined" in the sense that they can be anything the administrator of the system wants them to be. The user-defined fields should correspond to keys in the key/value pairs of the ticket change artifacts.

The tkt_id fields of TICKET and TICKETCHNG are an integer key used to uniquely identify the ticket to which the row belongs. These keys are for internal use only and may change when doing a "fossil rebuild".

The tkt_uuid field is the unique hexadecimal identifier for the ticket. Ticket identifiers appear to be SHA1 hash strings, but they are not really the hash of any identifiable artifact. They are just random hexadecimal numbers. When creating a new ticket, Fossil uses a (high-quality) pseudo-random number generator to create the ticket number. The ticket numbers are large so that the chance of collision between any two tickets is vanishingly small.

The tkt_mtime field of TICKET shows the time (as a Julian day number) of the most recent ticket change artifact for that ticket. The tkt_mtime field of TICKETCHNG shows the timestamp on the ticket change artifact that the TICKETCHNG row refers to. The tkt_ctime field of TICKET is the time of the oldest ticket change artifact for that ticket, thus holding the time that the ticket was created.

The tkt_rid field of TICKETCHNG is the integer primary key in the BLOB table of the ticket change artifact that gave rise to the row in the TICKETCHNG table.

All the other fields of the TICKET and TICKETCHNG tables are available for customization for individual projects. None of the remaining fields are required, but all of them are needed in order to use the default ticket creating, viewing, and editing scripts. It is recommended that the other fields be retained and that customizations be restricted to adding new fields above and beyond the default.

2.2 Translating Artifacts To Tables

Each row in the TICKETCHNG table corresponds to a single ticket change artifact. The tkt_id field is the integer primary key of the TICKET table entry for the corresponding ticket. The tkt_rid field is the integer primary key for the BLOB table entry that contains the low-level artifact text. The tkt_mtime field is the timestamp on the ticket change artifact, expressed as a julian day number. If the ticket change artifact contains a key/value pair where the key is "login", then the corresponding value is stored in the login field of the TICKETCHNG table. The same it true for "username", "mimetype", and "icomment" fields. Any time there is a key/value pair in the ticket change artifact and the key corresponds to the name of a field in the TICKETCHNG table, then the value of that key/value pair is stored in the TICKETCHNG table. If the TICKETCHNG table has a field for which there is no corresponding key/value pair in the artifact, then that field of the TICKETCHNG table is NULL. If there are key/value pairs in the artifact that have no corresponding field in the TICKETCHNG table, those key/value pairs are silently ignored.

Each row in the TICKET table records the overall status of a ticket. The tkt_id field is a unique integer primary key for the ticket. the tkt_uuid field is the global ticket identifier - a larger random hexadecimal constant. The tkt_mtime and tkt_ctime fields hold the times of the most recent and the oldest ticket change artifacts for this ticket, respectively.

To reconstruct the TICKET table, the ticket change artifacts are visited in timestamp order. As each ticket change artifact is visited, its key/value pairs are examined. For any key/value pair in which the key is the same as a field in the TICKET table, the value of that pair either replaces or is appended to the previous value of the corresponding field in the TICKET table. Whether a value is replaced or appended is determined by markings in the ticket change artifact itself. Most fields are usually replaced. (For example, to change the status from "Open" to "Fixed" would involve a key value pair "status/Fixed" with the replace attribute set). The main exception is the "comment" field, which is usually appended with new comment text.

Note that the replace-or-append mark on ticket change artifacts is only used by the TICKET table. Since the initial value of all fields in the TICKETCHNG table is NULL, the replace-or-append mark makes no difference there.

2.3 Old-Style versus New-Style Tickets

Older versions of Fossil (before 2012-11-27) only supported the TICKET table. In this older style, new comments were added to tickets by using the append-value feature on the comment field. Thus the TICKET.COMMENT field contains the complete text of all user comments already appended together and ready for display.

A problem with the old approach is that all comment text had to be in the same format. In other words, the all comment text had to be either plaintext or wiki or HTML. It was not possible for some comments to be in HTML and others to be plaintext. Some site administrators wanted the ability to mix plaintext, wiki, and HTML comments and display each comment according to its chosen format. Hence, Fossil was enhanced to support the "new-style" tickets.

The TICKETCHNG table was added to support new-style tickets. In the new style, comment text is stored with the "icomment" (for "Incremental Comment") key and appears separately, and with its on mimetype, in multiple rows of the TICKETCHNG table. It then falls to the TH1 script code on the View Ticket Page to query the TICKETCHNG table and extract and format the various comments in timestamp order.