This article was last updated in January 2019.
Have you been using the same Git commands for years, without a second thought on how your Git workflow can be improved?
Or are you a new developer who could use some handy Git tips and tricks?
This week, we’ll take a look at five Git tips you can seamlessly incorporate into your workflow to make it easier to get your code into prod.
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1. Rebase Git workflow
When you’ve finished a feature on a local branch and it’s time to commit your changes to the master branch, you might prefer merging over rebasing.
I used to be in a team responsible for merging sprint features into the master branch. This was a nightmare. Always.
Another dev taught me an excellent Git workflow that combines rebasing and merging when it’s time to commit changes to the master branch, and it has honestly made such a difference to my workflow.
With the rebasing and merging combo outlined below, merge issues are kept to a minimum because your local history will match master before the final merge into master. No headaches! (Or just mini ones!)
Rebasing also means working in a linear approach where local changes are added at the end of the branch. It makes it so much easier to read the log and find out exactly what’s happening.
Here’s the rebasing workflow:
git checkout master
git checkout feature-branch
git rebase master
git rebase --continue
git rebase --abort
git push -f
2. git add -p
When you’re working on a local feature branch, do you sometimes want to pick out code changes you want to commit, but leave other changes uncommitted? With the git add -p command, that’s exactly what you can do.
Before I learned about this command, I inefficiently discarded changes I didn’t want to commit using git checkout — src/etc and then committed all changes git commit -A . What a waste of time.
Now, I use this command when I have certain variables only applicable to my local environment that I don’t want to commit or when I have a piece of code I’m still working on but want to test a completed piece of functionality in another environment.
This command is the single most useful command I’ve learned in the last year (thanks, Callum!).
3. Keeping your branches tidy
Coming up with pithy branch names is definitely up there with naming variables. Sometimes, I’m working on a feature branch and come back the next day trying to understand why I picked such a generic branch name that probably already exists in the remote repository.
The command to rename branches locally is something I use at least once a month and is super quick and useful.
Rename a branch while currently not in the branch to be renamed:
git branch -m oldName newName
Rename the current branch:
git branch -m newName
Delete old local branches
Check all your old local branches right now: git branch
If you’re like me, you might have over 10 stale branches that have either been merged into master already or are just sitting around taking up space.
Time to delete this baggage. But only if you’re absolutely sure you don’t need them anymore.
git branch -d branchName
4. Git reset-hard
Do you sometimes just mess up on a local branch and want to abort all changes? Me too.
The git reset –hard command wipes all your staged and uncommitted changes so you can start again.
Be careful! As with most Git commands, you have to know exactly what you’re doing. This is a great resource to understand the inner workings of this command.
5. Escape greater than symbols:
If you’re using PowerShell for Git (such as posh-git) you might encounter the ever annoying double greater than symbols
>> that are impossible to escape unless you know the command.
There are always easy ways we can improve our Git workflow. A few commands can make all the difference between saving time and getting frustrated over merge conflicts that could have been avoided.