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Git Essential Training

Exploring strategies to reduce merge conflicts


From:

Git Essential Training

with Kevin Skoglund

Video: Exploring strategies to reduce merge conflicts

I want to conclude our discussion of merging by giving you some strategies that you can use to try to take some of the pain out of merge conflicts, to reduce them and to make them easier to deal with. I think this is important, because handling merge conflicts is really the only part of working with branches that can be at all painful. The first tip is to keep lines short. In the example that we just did, we had three large paragraphs of text, so we've got our merge conflict, we didn't know for sure where the conflict was in those three blocks of text. But by keeping the line short will make it much easier to spot where the problems were, because Git would then be able to show us, ah, the error was actually in the first part of this very long paragraph, not just somewhere inside of this paragraph, so it makes them easier to deal with.
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  1. 2m 46s
    1. Introduction
      1m 7s
    2. How to use the exercise files
      1m 39s
  2. 20m 24s
    1. Understanding version control
      4m 48s
    2. The history of Git
      7m 58s
    3. About distributed version control
      5m 4s
    4. Who should use Git?
      2m 34s
  3. 26m 12s
    1. Installing Git on a Mac
      3m 44s
    2. Installing Git on Windows
      5m 37s
    3. Installing Git on Linux
      1m 30s
    4. Configuring Git
      7m 29s
    5. Exploring Git auto-completion
      5m 35s
    6. Using Git help
      2m 17s
  4. 15m 49s
    1. Initializing a repository
      1m 58s
    2. Understanding where Git files are stored
      2m 34s
    3. Performing your first commit
      2m 4s
    4. Writing commit messages
      5m 22s
    5. Viewing the commit log
      3m 51s
  5. 17m 44s
    1. Exploring the three-trees architecture
      3m 57s
    2. The Git workflow
      3m 15s
    3. Using hash values (SHA-1)
      4m 7s
    4. Working with the HEAD pointer
      6m 25s
  6. 25m 52s
    1. Adding files
      5m 59s
    2. Editing files
      3m 56s
    3. Viewing changes with diff
      3m 35s
    4. Viewing only staged changes
      2m 28s
    5. Deleting files
      5m 29s
    6. Moving and renaming files
      4m 25s
  7. 19m 18s
    1. Introducing the Explore California web site
      2m 2s
    2. Initializing Git
      3m 48s
    3. Editing the support phone number
      6m 20s
    4. Editing the backpack file name and links
      7m 8s
  8. 38m 45s
    1. Undoing working directory changes
      3m 49s
    2. Unstaging files
      2m 37s
    3. Amending commits
      4m 50s
    4. Retrieving old versions
      4m 7s
    5. Reverting a commit
      3m 12s
    6. Using reset to undo commits
      3m 44s
    7. Demonstrating a soft reset
      4m 8s
    8. Demonstrating a mixed reset
      4m 7s
    9. Demonstrating a hard reset
      5m 8s
    10. Removing untracked files
      3m 3s
  9. 27m 22s
    1. Using .gitignore files
      8m 23s
    2. Understanding what to ignore
      4m 47s
    3. Ignoring files globally
      4m 49s
    4. Ignoring tracked files
      5m 26s
    5. Tracking empty directories
      3m 57s
  10. 26m 51s
    1. Referencing commits
      4m 52s
    2. Exploring tree listings
      3m 46s
    3. Getting more from the commit log
      7m 38s
    4. Viewing commits
      4m 4s
    5. Comparing commits
      6m 31s
  11. 39m 35s
    1. Branching overview
      4m 56s
    2. Viewing and creating branches
      2m 57s
    3. Switching branches
      2m 58s
    4. Creating and switching branches
      4m 53s
    5. Switching branches with uncommitted changes
      3m 26s
    6. Comparing branches
      4m 28s
    7. Renaming branches
      2m 28s
    8. Deleting branches
      4m 18s
    9. Configuring the command prompt to show the branch
      9m 11s
  12. 28m 32s
    1. Merging code
      3m 11s
    2. Using fast-forward merge vs. true merge
      6m 49s
    3. Merging conflicts
      7m 26s
    4. Resolving merge conflicts
      7m 5s
    5. Exploring strategies to reduce merge conflicts
      4m 1s
  13. 14m 34s
    1. Saving changes in the stash
      4m 5s
    2. Viewing stashed changes
      2m 39s
    3. Retrieving stashed changes
      4m 24s
    4. Deleting stashed changes
      3m 26s
  14. 1h 5m
    1. Using local and remote repositories
      6m 38s
    2. Setting up a GitHub account
      5m 39s
    3. Adding a remote repository
      4m 0s
    4. Creating a remote branch
      4m 3s
    5. Cloning a remote repository
      4m 26s
    6. Tracking remote branches
      4m 5s
    7. Pushing changes to a remote repository
      5m 8s
    8. Fetching changes from a remote repository
      5m 47s
    9. Merging in fetched changes
      4m 50s
    10. Checking out remote branches
      3m 22s
    11. Pushing to an updated remote branch
      2m 6s
    12. Deleting a remote branch
      3m 8s
    13. Enabling collaboration
      3m 40s
    14. A collaboration workflow
      8m 43s
  15. 16m 23s
    1. Setting up aliases for common commands
      5m 14s
    2. Using SSH keys for remote login
      2m 56s
    3. Exploring integrated development environments
      1m 4s
    4. Exploring graphical user interfaces
      4m 32s
    5. Understanding Git hosting
      2m 37s
  16. 55s
    1. Goodbye
      55s

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Git Essential Training
6h 26m Beginner Aug 24, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

The course shows how to use Git, the popular open-source version control software, to manage changes to source code and text files. Using a step-by-step approach, author Kevin Skoglund presents the commands that enable efficient code management and reveals the fundamental concepts behind version control systems and the Git architecture. Discover how to track changes to files in a repository, review previous edits, and compare versions of a file; create branches to test new ideas without altering the main project; and merge those changes into the project if they work out. The course begins by demonstrating version control in a single-user, standalone context, before exploring how remote repositories allow users to collaborate on projects effectively.

Topics include:
  • Exploring the history of version control
  • Installing Git on Mac, Windows, and Linux
  • Initializing a repository
  • Writing useful commit messages
  • Understanding the Git three-tree architecture
  • Tracking when files are added, edited, deleted, or moved
  • Viewing change sets and comparing versions
  • Undoing changes and rolling back to previous versions
  • Ignoring changes to select files
  • Creating and working with code branches
  • Merging branches and resolving merge conflicts
  • Stashing changes for later
  • Working with hosted repositories and remote branches
  • Developing an effective collaboration workflow
Subject:
Developer
Software:
Git GitHub
Author:
Kevin Skoglund

Exploring strategies to reduce merge conflicts

I want to conclude our discussion of merging by giving you some strategies that you can use to try to take some of the pain out of merge conflicts, to reduce them and to make them easier to deal with. I think this is important, because handling merge conflicts is really the only part of working with branches that can be at all painful. The first tip is to keep lines short. In the example that we just did, we had three large paragraphs of text, so we've got our merge conflict, we didn't know for sure where the conflict was in those three blocks of text. But by keeping the line short will make it much easier to spot where the problems were, because Git would then be able to show us, ah, the error was actually in the first part of this very long paragraph, not just somewhere inside of this paragraph, so it makes them easier to deal with.

And in some cases, it might allow Git to resolve some of those conflicts for you automatically and have less work for you to do. The second tip is to keep your commits small and focused. If you open up a document to make a change, just make that change and then commit it, don't go in there and let yourself start wandering around, making lots of other changes, sort of, while I'm in here changes. I might as well do these things while I'm in here, and then you commit it all together. You're more likely to create merge conflicts for yourself by doing that. Especially, be careful about stray edits to whitespace, that is spaces, tabs, and line returns.

Now sometimes you're going to want to make edits to those, I'm not saying that, what I'm saying is don't make unnecessary edits to those, or unintentional edits. You will get a merge conflict if you change four spaces into eight spaces, and you'll have to stop and resolve it, but if you don't unnecessarily change whitespace, then those conflicts won't come up. The next one may or may not be practical, which is to merge often. If you can, if you're not waiting until you finish a feature, get to some future point in a project, if you can merge in often back to your master branch, then you should do it.

Because then each time you do it these merges are going to be smaller and the conflicts will be smaller and more isolated. The longer you wait, the bigger the merge conflicts are going to be. Instead of having a conflict in three files, suddenly you're going to have a conflict in 50 files. And you're going to spend a lot of time resolving it, and it's going to be much more painful experience than if you break that up and resolve those conflicts as you go. Now I don't want it to be a surprise to you that you can't merge more than once, we've only merged one time. Let's just take a quick look to make sure that that's clear. If you have your master branch, let's say, and we've our text_edits branch.

So we're making commits to both of those, we're merging back in. Now we don't have to throw away our text_edits branch at this point. We can still continue to make new commits into the text_edits branch, and new commits to the master branch and then merge those commits back in. We can make more edits in to our text_edits branch, more commits in the master branch and then merge those back in, so this is what I mean by merging often. The last strategy is perhaps the most important one of all, which is that you can track changes to master as you go.

What do I mean by track changes? I mean as changes continue to happen in master, keep bringing those changes into your branch so that your branch stays mostly in sync with master, it doesn't get far out of sync. Let me give in illustration of this. So again, we have our master branch, we have our text_ edits branch, we're making commits to both of those. So at a certain point though we say you know what, master has had some critical changes in it that I'd really like to have in my text_edits branch. I can merge those into the text_edits branch. Now my text_edits branch is mostly in sync with master again, and then I'll have more changes to master, more changes to text_edits, and then I can merge those changes back in again, tracking what's going on in master all along so that I don't get too far out of sync.

And then that way when I finally decide that I want to merge text_edits back into master, it's not that far away anymore. It has most of the changes incorporated in master already, and we'll reduce the number of conflicts that you get when you merge back in. We call this process tracking, and it is an important strategy to use. By now you should have a good sense of how to work with branches. How to create them, how to add commits to them, how to switch between different branches, and how to merge them back in. It's a very powerful feature of Git, and you're going to find that you use it a lot.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Git Essential Training.


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Q: In the Chapter 10 movie "Configuring the command prompt to show the branch," when I type the function "__git_ps1," I do not get the expected result.
A: The function "__git_ps1" was recently moved to a new file, .git-prompt.sh, as described here: https://github.com/git/git/commit/af31a456b4cd38f2630ed8e556e23954f806a3cc.

We will update the video. In the meantime, you may do the same steps you do for .git-completion.bash, but a second time using ".git-prompt.sh" as shown here: https://github.com/git/git/blob/master/contrib/completion/git-prompt.sh.
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