Faster Git workflows

01 Oct 2013

Over the last decade, Git has fast become an integral part of most developers daily routine. Fork this and merge that, you know the drill. There are many strategies for using Git to develop software, and at HouseTrip we follow a simple feature-branch model. All new changes are committed in separate feature branches, and then pull-requested to be merged into master, or an integration branch for larger features. This workflow works very well, and that is in large part due to the awesomeness of GitHub.

To avoid name clashes and to better be able to identify branches, we follow a branch naming strategy along the lines of team-name/feature-name-story-id. This can often result in a lot of typing when changing branches.

I usually work on multiple features at a time, some awaiting sign-off, others needing review etc. Therefore I usually have somewhere around 10 branches checked out locally, and being able to switch between them fast allows me to work faster.

Alias commonly used branches

One simple trick I use is to add to alias integration and staging branches for easier access when running Git commands. E.g. I have the following in my .zshrc

echo INT=my-team/integration/sweet-new-feature

This allows me to quickly interface with the integration branch in the vein of:

git diff $INT
git merge $INT
git pull-request -t $INT

This very simple trick has saved me a lot of typing. I know, and use, git branch completion with ZSH, but given our large team and number of branches, it is way too slow when I want to move fast. I sounds a bit anal, but waiting seconds before switching a branch is really annoying.

Useful Git aliases

Git aliases is another great way to speed up your day to day work. I won’t bore you with all my aliases, but rather explain the ones I use the most. The following aliases goes into your ~/.gitconfig under the [alias] group.

Enhanced git log

l = log --graph \
        --pretty=format:'%Cred%h%Creset %s %Cgreen(%cr) %C(black)<%an>%Creset' \
        --abbrev-commit \
        --date=relative -14

This alias produces a slimmed down and decorated version of the git log:

Enhanced Git log

Commit all changed files

ca = !git add -A && git commit -v

This is one of my most used commands. It adds all changed files and opens my editor (Vim) showing the diff. This allows me to quickly scan the changes, write a commit message and save, hereby committing the changes.

Fast git status

g() {
  if [[ $# == '0' ]]; then
    command git status -sb
    command git "$@";

This bash function prints the git status when no arguments are supplied, otherwise it runs the git command as usual.

Git status alias

I hope these tips can help in your day-to-day work and speed up your git usage. Thanks for stopping by. To keep updated with new posts, add my RSS feed to your reader of choice.