How to test a FreeBSD port

I am testing a new port written by Palle Girgensohn ( He sent me the link to test.

I’ve never done this before, so I started thinking of how I might do so. being a fork of which in turn appears to be the mainline FreeBSD ports tree, I thought it would be possible to just get sysutils/filebeat into my own mainline ports tree (which I maintain with portsnap). So, combining my svn knowledge and git ignorance, I tried this:

root@travis:/usr/ports/sysutils # git clone filebeat
Cloning into 'filebeat'...
fatal: repository '' not found

A bit of searching tells me I can’t simply do a subtree clone or checkout. I decided to do this:

root@travis:~ # mv /usr/ports /usr/ports.bak
root@travis:~ # git clone /usr/ports

This worked, but (unsurprisingly) took a long time. I could then test the new port with the usual commands:

root@travis:~ # make -C /usr/ports/sysutils/filebeat install

So, I’ve achieved my short term goal, but it has left me wondering – how do other people do this? People who regularly test new ports or similar activity on anything other than the mainline ports tree surely have more streamlined practices. Somewhat complicated git commands to do a ‘sparse checkout’? Is it normal practice that Palle Girgensohn provided me a fork of the entire ports tree? I could ask him to do it differently. Hmm, I wonder if I could fork a subset of his fork, and then clone my entire ‘subfork’.

Thoughts welcome.