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Using .gitignore files

From: Git Essential Training

Video: Using .gitignore files

In the previous chapters we saw that git does a really good job of noticing new files as well as changes to existing files in our working directory. In fact, as soon as we added a new file to our working directory Git noticed and added it to the list of untracked files. So, for example, if I take this tempfile.txt and drop it into my project directory, I can say git status and right away git recognizes this is an untracked file. But what if this is in fact a temporary file that we don't care about or what if it's a log file that's constantly changing, git would constantly be prompting us to commit those changes to the repository. Instead, what we really want is a way to tell Git just ignore the files altogether, that's what we're going to learn how to do in this chapter.

Using .gitignore files

In the previous chapters we saw that git does a really good job of noticing new files as well as changes to existing files in our working directory. In fact, as soon as we added a new file to our working directory Git noticed and added it to the list of untracked files. So, for example, if I take this tempfile.txt and drop it into my project directory, I can say git status and right away git recognizes this is an untracked file. But what if this is in fact a temporary file that we don't care about or what if it's a log file that's constantly changing, git would constantly be prompting us to commit those changes to the repository. Instead, what we really want is a way to tell Git just ignore the files altogether, that's what we're going to learn how to do in this chapter.

To tell Git which files it ought to ignore, we're going to create a special file in the root of our project, in the root of the working directory. And that file is going to be called .gitignore, so it's all run together, no spaces or punctuation except for the Period at the beginning, .gitignore this file is going to provide Git with a set of rules that it can use to know which files to use for commits and which ones should be ignored. Those rules can be very simple, just a list of files one for each line or we can get little fancier, and you some very basic regular expressions.

We can use the Asterisk, the Question Mark, a bracket of characters, a character set, or a range like 0-9. So it's really pretty limited, we just have some basic wildcards that we can use. We can also negate expressions by putting an exclamation point in them. So, for example, we could say ignore any file that ends in .php. We're using the asterisk wildcard for one or more characters, so one or more characters ending in .php will get ignored but don't ignore index.php.

Don't let it confuse you this sort of a double-negative, we're talking about not ignoring things, that means these would be tracked. So files ending in .php don't get tracked, but index.php does get tracked. And you can tell to ignore all files in a directory by just having a trailing slash at the end, and that will tell that all files in this directory should be ignored. If you want to add comments to the file, you can start those with the Pound or Hash sign at the beginning, and blank lines will just be basically skipped.

Let's try creating a gitignore file. Now you can create the gitignore file a number of different ways. You can simply open up your Text Editor and create it that way. But I think because it has a dot in front of it which makes it hard to see anywhere except from command line, it's best to create the file from the command line. So I'm going to use a Unix command nano which will bring up a text editor that I can use to edit that. Now if you're doing this on Windows, even though you maybe using a Unix-like environment, you still may not have access to the nano program. You can try and see if it works.

But if it doesn't work then you'll need to fallback using another Text Editor, and Notepad is probably the simplest one that you know you're going to have a Windows, this is the most basic Text Editor there is, and you can find that in your applications, and then you just save the file as .gitignore and make sure you have the Save As type field set to be All files, and then I'll make sure it doesn't put a file extension at the end or just be .gitignore with nothing after it, and you'll save that file in your Explore California directory. Now since I'm on Unix, and I do have access to nano, I'm going to type nano and then .gitignore. This is going to create a new file called gitignore in the directory that I'm in right now which you can see is my project directory, so let's create that new file there, and let's start by just putting in that we wanted to ignore tempfile.txt, and then you can see down here it says Exit is this character here followed by the X, that's the Ctrl key, so Ctlr+X, we'll exit out of there, save changes, and we'll type a Y for Yes, file name to write it to is gitignore, we'll hit Return to accept that.

And now if we do ls -la, we see gitignore file has been added. So let's do a git status now, and now you can see that that temp file is no longer listed there. So we're not seeing the temp file as being a file that's not tracked. However, we have a new file there, which is gitignore. Don't ignore that file--or you don't want to tell Git to ignore that--we want to commit that file to our repository. We want that to be included with the project, this is the project's gitignore file, it's the files that may show up in the project that everyone is going to want to ignore, so we're just always going to include it with the project we will want to commit that.

And before we actually commit it, though, let's just try a few more things, nano, let's open up gitignore again. And this time I'm going to change it to just use the Asterisk, so anything that is .txt. Now if I did this, it's going to ignore not just that one file but any other file in this directory that ends in .txt. All the .html files would still be tracked, so let's just do Ctrl+X to save the changes, type a Y and return, and that will save it, git status again, and you can see that it still is ignoring that temp file.

If you want to do gitignore, we can put a Pound sign at the front that makes it a comment, right? Comments are done like that. Now I'll just save it again and git status. Now that rule is no longer in effect, now it says I see two files there, I see our gitignore file, and I see that temp file again. All right! So before we actually committed let's add a few more entries to it now that we kind of have a feel for how it works. Now the only file that we really want to ignore at the moment is that temp file, so let's do tempfile.txt, and let's add a few others in here.

And in the next movie we'll talk about the different kinds of things that you should can ignore but I am going to give you some samples. We're going to list the .DS_Store file that's a file that shows up on Macintosh, that's something that the operating system uses. We're going to tell it to ignore all files that end in .zip and .gz. That's files that have been compressed into a single file, and let's say log files. Let's say we have a directory called log and anything in that directory that ends in .log we're going to ignore. In addition to that, if we use log rotate on our log files it's going to append a number at the end. So anything that is 0-9 at the end we also want to ignore.

Let's imagine that we have in our assets directory some Photoshop files that we used to create the graphics. Well, we can tell to ignore all Photoshop files that are in there. Let's say we have some videos, we can tell it to ignore all the videos, but let's say there are some videos that we do want. Well, let's tell what videos do we want it to track. We'll tell it not to ignore videos/tour_*.mp4. So anything that starts with tour_ and ends in .mp4 in the videos directory is still going to be tracked.

Okay, so that gives you some idea of some of the kinds of ways that we can use this file. Now here's my question for you, would log/archive/access.log be ignored? Look there at the entry for log right here and decide whether you think that it would be ignored or not. The answer is no, it would not. This is only going to apply to files. So this wild card is for characters that would be part of the file name, it would not include archive and the slash in front of it.

So if you have folders nested inside of folders, you'll need to be careful about that. So now that we've finished working with our file, I'm going to use Ctrl+X to exit, Y to save my changes, and Return to save it to the same file name. Let's do git status again, I'll just clear my screen, so we see our gitignore file listed, let's now add that to our repository, git add .gitignore and then git commit -m "Add . gitignore file". So there it is.

Now we do git status, and we don't see it, but as you can see our tempfile.txt is still in there. It's just being ignored.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Git Essential Training

89 video lessons · 30209 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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