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Tracking empty directories

From: Git Essential Training

Video: Tracking empty directories

So far in this chapter, we have been talking about how we can give instructions to Git, to tell it which files it ought to ignore instead of tracking. In this movie, we were actually going to do the opposite. One of the things that always surprises people who are new to Git is the fact that Git does not track empty directories, and that's because Git is designed to be a file-tracking system. Its purpose is to track files and the content in those files. So it tracks files, and it tracks the directories it takes to get to those files, but it ignores directories that have no files at all.

Tracking empty directories

So far in this chapter, we have been talking about how we can give instructions to Git, to tell it which files it ought to ignore instead of tracking. In this movie, we were actually going to do the opposite. One of the things that always surprises people who are new to Git is the fact that Git does not track empty directories, and that's because Git is designed to be a file-tracking system. Its purpose is to track files and the content in those files. So it tracks files, and it tracks the directories it takes to get to those files, but it ignores directories that have no files at all.

Let me demonstrate. Here I am in my project folder. I have got an empty folder here on my Desktop called pdfs, you can create a new folder or pull this one out of the exercise files, and I am just going to drag this into assets. Let's open up assets, and you can see that pdfs is empty. All right, there is nothing inside of there, and I can confirm that from the Command Line ls -la assets/pdfs/. Now these are not things in there. There is not a file called dot and dot dot. In Unix, this is a reference to the current directory and reference to the parent directory.

So those were not files, it means the directory is in fact completely empty. I had already done a git status here, and it said working directory is clean. Let's try it again, git status, working directory is still clean, it didn't list it. Now the moment that there is a file in there, then it will suddenly keep track of it. So the trick that we use in order to keep track of empty directories is to put a file in them. Now if you already had planned on putting some PDF files in there, well, no problem. Just put the PDF files in, add the PDF files to the repo, and that directory will get put in there at the same time, it will all get added together.

But if you want to have it track an empty directory, it can't be truly empty. It has to have some kind of file in there. So the cheat that everyone uses is that you just put a little tiny file in there so that it can track it, and by convention people either name that file .gitignore to match the gitignore file or more often now but use .gitkeep, the opposite, basically telling it, it should keep this directory. So we just need to put a little file inside pdfs called .gitkeep, and you can do that using just any text editor. You don't have to actually put any content on it, it can have zero content in it, drop it in there or it can have a comment saying I want to keep this file, something like that.

It doesn't really matter. That file will never get used for anything except for Git. One of the ways that we can do that from Unix is we can use the touch command. So touch is a way to just create a file that doesn't exist. If we say assets/pdfs/.gitkeep, this will create the file .gitkeep with no content in it whatsoever. This is a little Unix trick. We will do that, and now if I go back here and do ls -la assets/pdfs/, you can see that .gitkeep file is there. It's 0 length, there is nothing inside of it.

But the file is there. Now we can't see it, right here from the desktop, it still looks empty, but when we go to Git and ask about it, Git says, "Ah! I see this directory," and if we say git add assests/pdfs, git status, now here it is it says, "Ah! I found a file." Assets/pdfs/.getkeep. That's the file that it wants to add. So let's go ahead and commit it, so git commit and "Add 'empty' directory with .gitkeep file in it".

So there it is now it's added to our repo, git status, and it's been tracked. So even though it's a little bit surprising at first, it's a pretty easy fact to remember. Git keeps track of files, not directories. The directories are just incidental as the path to get to those files. If we want to keep track of a directory, it has to have a file in it, no matter how small, but there has to be a file.

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This video is part of

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Git Essential Training

89 video lessons · 27679 viewers

Kevin Skoglund
Author

 
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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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