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Creating a new branch in GIT

+2 votes
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I would like to know what are the best practices when creating a new branch. For example. If I get a request to do update website title from XYZ to ABC; then should I create a branch named; "Update Title"? Or I should prefix this as suggested here (http://stackoverflow.com/questions/273695/git-branch-naming-best-practices). Are there any official prefixes?

Also I am concerned about the following; Let us say I create the branch named "Update Title". Finish the change. Merge back with Master. I then get another request to change title from ABC to DEF. Can I create another branch "Update Title". Will not this be confusing?

posted Apr 21, 2014 by Abhay Kulkarni

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1 Answer

+1 vote

In Git, a branch is merely a pointer to a commit. The crucial bit is "pointer" -- this means any commit might be pointed to by any number of branches at the same time, and that's why commits do not "belong" to any branch. Hence whatever meaning you put into a branch name is only in your head -- this does not affect commits reachable from that branch in any way. Moreover, once you merge a branch into another, and subsequently delete the merged branch, the commits made on it stay there forever while there's no more traces left of the deleted branch -- as if it had never existed.

So, do whatever you want with your branches. Giving your branches names like "Update Title" is not a common practice but for purely technical reason: in Git, a branch is represented by a file on a filesystem, and using branch names with "funny characters, spaces included" might, in some situations, cause problems. So I'd name your branch "update-title" -- that is, no title casing, no spaces.

Another popular approach is to put your bug tracker / ticketing system first: when you're given a task to update the site's title, open a bug for this first and get that bug's ID back, then simply encode the bug's
title into the branch name, like "bug-xxxxx". This will give you unique branch names. When you merge you branch back to the integration branch you mention the bug's ID in the commit message and then close the bug in the tracker.

Note that Git has certain means to attach "metadata" to your branches. Two of them that I know of are

  • git branch --edit-description which allows you to set a description of the purpose of that branch. This description is used by some other Git tools but you can print it back using the git config command:

    git config branch.bug-xxxxx.description

  • git notes allows you to attach a note to any commit. Notes are not pushed by default (and supposedly the shouldn't be, unless everyone in the team agrees to do that as they were supposed to be used locally).

answer Apr 21, 2014 by anonymous
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