Posts from July 2009
A few months ago, I started investigating Git, and I fell in love with how much easier it made managing my code. I’m managing the source code to this site with Git, and along the way I’ve come up with a pretty good workflow for myself. The basic steps are:
Let’s go through each one to see how it all works together.
With SVN, I found myself hating branching–it was always a complicated procedure, and I could never remember how to do it. In Git it’s as easy as
git checkout -b <branch-name>, and you’re ready to go. Once you have a branch, you can modify it however you want, and you don’t have to worry about interfering with the master branch. In order to keep your master branch bug free, commit only to branches, not to master itself.
In addition to creating new branches for major features, I always have a few branches around that I pop into for certain things:
- “design” - any changes I want to make to the design go here
- “optimize” - optimizations to the site
- “bugfixes” - a place to work on minor bugfixes
Having these branches allows me to make small fixes to the site, and if it turns out it’s more than just a small fix, it doesn’t interfere with anything else.
In the Subversion world, it’s a pretty common practice to make very large commits, consisting of many changes. With Git, you should constantly be committing. By making many commits, you make it easier to find bugs you may have introduced, and it makes it a lot easier to track your progress. If you don’t like the thought of wading through long lists of commits in your logs, don’t worry–before bringing it over to the master branch, you can consolidate things with interactive rebasing, but while you’re hacking away on a branch, it really is advantageous to have many small commits.
Rebasing is one of the harder things to grasp when you’re first learning about Git. For in-depth coverage of the topic, check out the Rebasing page in the Git Community Book. In a nutshell, doing
git rebase master takes any commits to
master and inserts them into your current branch, so you can then make sure your new code still works, and it’s a lot less hazardous than doing a merge. Rebasing your branch before putting into
master is really important because it allows you to deal with any merge issues before the code goes to your main branch. To rebase, just run
git rebase master.
After rebasing the branch, it’s safe to merge it into master. Since I’ve already dealt with any merge issues with the previous step, it’s as simple as checking out the master branch and running
git merge <branch-name>
I use Capistrano to deploy my code, so I’m constantly typing
git push followed by
cap deploy to deploy changes to my server. To make it easier, I just put both commands into one git alias:
deploy = !git push && cap deploy
Now I just need to run
git deploy and it automatically pushes all of my changes to the remote Git repository and then deploys the site using Capistrano. Here’s some more information about Git aliases.
Though I primarily use Git through the command line, I really like using GitX to visualize branches. To host my repositories on my server, I use Gitosis, though if I had a few more projects, I’d dole out the money for a paid account at GitHub.
Have a great Git workflow? Think mine’s terrible? Let me know in the comments!