Like any good computer scientist I use git for many research and personal projects. My primary use of git is for code backups rather than collaborating with others. However, in some of my recent work I’ve been sharing repositories with colleagues and students which has caused me to improve my git skills.
The following is some of the functionality I’ve only recently discovered that has been extremely helpful:
git cherry-pick commit-id-number
This command proved very useful when I recently forked a github repo and made some changes to the source code for the specific project I’m working on. I soon discovered a bug in the original repository that a number of users had reported. I was able to fix the bug in my fork, but as my fork had changes that I didn’t want to contribute back to the original repository I was able to use the cherry-pick command to bring across only the specific commit related to the bug fix.
git checkout --theirs conflicted_file.php
Merge conflicts suck. But sometimes despite trying to pull as often as possible they still occur and can full your code with ugly messes to clean up. I recently wanted to throw away my changes to a file and simply use the latest committed file. By using git checkout –theirs I was able to throw away all my changes and go for the file that had been committed and conflicted with my changes. Conversely, you can use –ours to replace the conflicted file in favour of local changes.
During the past few weeks the students in the course I’ve been teaching this semester have used git to collaborate on group projects. The git shortlog command produces a list of commits grouped by each author allowing you to quickly see the relative rate at which people are contributing commits to a repository.
git branch -a
When you clone a remote repository it pulls in all branches from the remote repository. However, if you just type git branch you won’t see this. The -a flag allows you to see everything.
git log --all
The same issue applies when you are trying to see the log across all commits across all branches, just using the standard git log command will only produce the log for the current branch. The -all flag allows you to see the log across all branches, combining this with the cherry-pick command is very useful when you want to bring across just one set of changes rather than merging a whole branch.
git log --all --stat --author="Tom"
Bringing this all together I’ve begun to regularly use the above command to see all commits by a single user across all branches. This has been a good way to measure students’ contributions to a group project (note: the author option is case sensitive).