Git workflow

Published on May 17, 2020, 11:28 p.m.

It's 2020. People and teams are still using and adopting git. As new teams are created, at some point, someone asks, "what's a good git workflow for us?"

Here's a workflow that has served me well over the past few years working in small teams.

Assumptions

  1. You're using git.
  2. You have an authoritative git repo somewhere (e.g. github, bitbucket, gitlab, etc), and that repo is named origin (this is the default name of remotes in git).
  3. master is golden; i.e. that's where the production code is deployed from, or the branch from which the release build happens.
  4. You and everyone on your team can clone the repo.

Starting some work

You're about to start some new work, i.e. a new feature, a bug fix, etc.

  1. git checkout master: Make sure you're on the master branch.
  2. git pull origin master: Make sure you have the latest version of the code on your system.
  3. git checkout -b WHATEVER: Create a new branch for your work. I'm not a stickler for branch names, but it should be a unique name, otherwise you'll accidentally end up putting your commits in someone else's work.
  4. Do the work.
  5. git push origin WHATEVER: Push your work up to the repo.
  6. At this point, use your shared repo's systems to create a Pull/Merge request or whatever it's called that lets others on your team compare your code with that in master. This allows you to get feedback early.

Continue this process every day until your feature is complete or your bug is fixed. Typically, however, these branches are more-or-less ephemeral. They only live for the duration of the feature or bugfix.

Pro-tip: If you get new commits when you pull from master, then rebase your commits onto master IF AND ONLY IF nobody has pulled your commits down from your branch. THIS is important.

Rebasing is dangerous, but it makes all of your work look like it happend AFTER the last commit in master: git checkout WHATEVER, then git rebase master.

Repeat.

Merging work

At some point, you finish the bugfix or feature addition, and then you need to get it adding into the project. You want to merge your commits into master.

  1. Get your stuff code-reviewed. Have someone else on your team look over your stuff and get approval / or a :thumbsup:. There's a lot on the internet about code review, but I'm a big fan of doing it so someone else on the team knows what happens, and just to sanity check what's going on. Kudos if you did this several times during development.
  2. Set up something in your online repo to run your tests for you. (you've got tests right?) Don't merge until the tests pass.
  3. Once approved, use your online repo's tools to Merge the code. (if you've been rebasing every step of the way, this should almost always merge cleanly).
  4. Delete the feature / bugfix branch. (Now is a good time to go learn about l git prune).

Gettin fancy with feature branches.

At some point, you may want to have some work that's not part of master, but that you can build or deploy for people to use. This is a "feature branch", and the workflow is exactly the same as above... except you merge into the feature branch instead of master.

Ideally... you'll eventually merge this feature into master. Here are some examples:

  1. We use a staging branch for things we want to let people try out before it goes out to all customers.
  2. You may use a version2 branch for a big re-work of something, and you're not quite ready to merge that into the same branch as your production code.

Etc, etc.

Long-lived feature branches are fine, and the above workflow can work with them quite well. Just communicate with your team about the feature branch.

Conclusion

This is essentially a simple git workflow. Google "git workflow" for a hundred variations on this, but this process has worked well for me.


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