08 DECEMBER 2019 /

Git revision histories

Watching the youtube video A Branch in Time (a story about revision histories) by Tekin Süleyman provided invaluable insight on how to git better.

Git commit histories can be revised to better organise repos and to easily find details on why choices were made.

Your software is more than the code — Tekin Süleyman

The commands to use to edit commit messages are summarised below

To revise commit history:

git rebase -i master

When editing commit messages:

  • pick, p use commit
  • squash, s use commit but meld into previous commit
  • fixup, f like squash but discard commit log message
  • reword, r edit commit message

Change previous commit, add changes, use --no-edit to use without new commit message:

git commit --amend

To force push to branch:

git push --force-with-lease

Tips on writing good commit messages:

  1. Configure an environment for good commit messages (getting out of using git commit -m 'Message')
    Use git config --global core.editor "subl -w" and turn verbose on git config --global commit.verbose true
  2. Capture the why, not the what
  3. Shape each commit Keep the story simple and easy to follow
    • Create small atomic commits
    • Shape as you go, not at the end
    • git add --patch / -p
  4. Treat (local) commits as mutable
    git commit —amend
    —fixup / —autosquash
    git rebase —interactive
    git rebase —abort
  5. Build your instincts; search your histories
    git log -S "some_code"
    git annotate file

Kerry attempts squash

  1. Run git rebase -i master
  2. Change top commit message to be reword or pick
  3. Squash the rest of the commits
  4. When saved and closed, prompt to update commit messages:
    1. Comment out squashed messages
    2. Update (or leave) top commit
  5. Check messages with git log --oneline
  6. Push git push --force-with-lease 🥳

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Kerry Parker

Data Scientist with PhD in Physics. Interested in learning, software development and productivity, see more posts on Medium.