In the field of software development, trunk refers to the unnamed branch (version) of a file tree under revision control. The trunk is usually meant to be the base of a project on which development progresses. If developers are working exclusively on the trunk, it always contains the latest cutting-edge version of the project, but therefore may also be the most unstable version. Another approach is to split a branch off the trunk, implement changes in that branch and merge the changes back into the trunk when the branch has proven to be stable and working. Depending on development mode and commit policy the trunk may contain the most stable or the least stable or something-in-between version. Other terms for trunk include baseline, mainline, and master, though in some cases these are used with similar but distinct senses – see Revision control: Common vocabulary. The trunk is also sometimes loosely referred to as HEAD, but properly head refers not to a branch, but to the most recent commit on a given branch, and both the trunk and each named branch has its own head.
Often main developer work takes place in the trunk and stable versions are branched, and occasional bug-fixes are merged from branches to the trunk. When development of future versions is done in non-trunk branches, it is usually done for projects that do not change often, or where a change is expected to take a long time to develop until it will be ready for incorporating in the trunk.
See also