20 Jan 2019

git in as fw chrs as psbl

or: learn from my dotfile mistakes

Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of dotfiles around my coding workflow, and most of them are focused on git. Each time I notice that I’m spending a lot of time doing something over and over, I looked for a way to wrap that work up into a shortcut to make it faster. Today, I have a vibrant ecosystem of git aliases, bash aliases, and scripts that interact with both git and hub to make things happen.

None of it was designed, and none of it fundamentally makes sense, but I have a decade worth of muscle memory built up for this exact set of shortcuts and there’s not a whole lot I can do about that now. So I’m going to show off my nonsensical gibberish that makes git do exactly what I want, and you can decide which pieces you want to steal but give names or shortcuts that make more sense.

Let’s start with the workflow that I have personally optimized the most: cloning an open source project, forking it, making changes, pushing those changes, and opening a pull request. This will only touch a few of my shortcuts, but it will include the ones that I’ve put the most time and work into.

In this hypothetical example, I’m going to use Bundler (as if I were not a maintainer).

OSS pull requests

    $ gc bundler/bundler
    $ hub fork
    $ git co -b indirect/bugfix
    # do some work here
    $ gs
    $ gd
    $ gi -am "Fixed the bug"
    $ # get distracted by something else for two days
    $ git rup
    $ git rebase origin master
    $ gp indirect
    $ hub prl

As you probably noticed, every line there (except hub fork) was some sort of shortcut. Let’s look through them one at a time.

The gc command checks out a git repo into a specific directory structure: ~/src/username/reponame, and then cds into the directory. The hub fork command creates a fork of the repo under my own GitHub account. The gs command runs git status, the gd command shows a git diff, and the gi command runs git commit.

After two days of progress on the upstream, I use rup as an alias for remote update, which fetches the latest commits from all remotes, including both my fork and the upstream. Then I rebase against the upstream, use gp indirect to git push my HEAD commit to the indirect remote with the same remote branch name as I am using locally (which is indirect/bugfix in this example). After pushing to my fork, I use the hub prl shortcut to create a new pull request from my fork against the upstream, using the title of my last commit as the PR title, and using the body of my last commit message as the PR body.

It’s probably over-optimized, but when your workday includes anywhere from a few to dozens of PRs against repos that you don’t own, it really adds up.

I also have some other aliases that I use as a maintainer of Bundler. Here’s an example workflow.

OSS code review

    $ j bundler
    $ git rup
    $ git ff
    $ git cleanup
    $ gb
    $ git pr 6754
    $ gd master
    # review the diff, run the code, etc

This set of commands fetches updates both from my fork and the upstream repo, fast forwards the main branch to the latest commit, deletes any local branches that have been merged into the main branch, and then checks out and reviews a PR.

    $ hub remote add username
    # make changes
    $ gp username pr-source-branch
    $ git wipe

In this OSS bonus round, I’m making some changes to an open PR against a repo where I am a maintainer. Since PRs grant edit permissions to maintainers, I am able to add the fork of the PR author, make changes, push to their PR branch, and then remove all remotes other than my own and the upstream with wipe.

Daily work

    $ j codebase
    $ git rup
    $ git co latest
    $ git ff
    $ git cleanup
    $ git co -b indirect/something
    # make some commits here
    $ gp
    # notice a typo, fix it
    $ git add .
    $ git fixup
    $ gp -f
    # come back the next day
    $ git rup
    $ git co master
    $ git ff
    $ git co -
    $ git rebase master
    $ gp
    $ hub browse
    # use a browser to make a pull request

Other git aliases

There are also a lot of shortcuts for more… esoteric… usecases. Let’s look at some of those, too.

git sha prints the SHA of the HEAD commit.

git cpsha copies the SHA of the HEAD commit to the clipboard, so I can paste it somewhere else.

git burn deletes the most recent commit. It’s an alias to git reset --hard HEAD^.

git nuke removes every file that isn’t tracked by git. It’s an alias for git reset --hard HEAD.

git nuke-all removes every file and every directory that isn’t tracked by git. It’s an alias for git reset --hard HEAD && git clean -fd.

git ls combines a one-line git log format with verification of git commit signatures. The output shows sha, relative time, author, and commit subject, as well as a color-coded letter indicating whether a signature is valid, invalid, unknown, or missing.

example of git ls

Other bash aliases

I also have a lot of Bash aliases, although most of them are shortcuts to common git commands.

alias gb="git branch -v"
alias gba="git branch -va --color | grep -v 'remotes/origin/pr'"
alias gbl="git branch -vv --color | grep -v '\[.*\/.*\] '"
alias gbr="git branch -vr --color | grep -v 'origin/HEAD'"
alias gcp="git cherry-pick"
alias gd="git diff"
alias gds="git diff --cached"
alias gdw="git diff --word-diff"
alias gf="git fetch --all"
alias gi="git commit -v"
alias gia="git commit --amend -v"
alias gl="git lg"
alias gs="git status -sb"

function gc {
  local repo=${1#*github.com/}
  hub clone --recursive "$repo" "$HOME/src/$repo"
  cd "$HOME/src/$repo"

function current_branch {
  status=$(git status 2> /dev/null)

  # Bail if status failed, not a git repo
  if [[ $? -ne 0 ]]; then return 1; fi

  # Try to get the branch from the status we already have
  if [[ $status =~ "# On branch (.*?) " ]]; then

  # Check the output of `branch` next
  if [[ -z "$name" ]]; then
    name=$(git branch | grep '^*' | cut -b3- | grep -v '^(')

  # Fall back on name-rev
  if [[ -z "$name" ]]; then
    name=$(git name-rev --name-only --no-undefined --always HEAD)

  echo "$name"

function gp {
  local current_branch=$(current_branch)
  local upstream=$(git config branch.$current_branch.remote)

  if [[ -z "$upstream" ]]; then
    if [[ "$1" == "-f" ]]; then
      local options="-uf"
      local remote="${2-origin}"
      local remote="${1-origin}"

    git push "${options--u}" "$remote" "$current_branch"
    git push "$@"

function mcd {
  mkdir -p "$@"
  cd "$@"

I use gc and gp a lot in my day to day work.

The current_branch function does something that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Not only does it show the branch name, if you are in one, if you check out a commit that doesn’t have its own branch it will show you where you are relative to the nearest named branch or tag. For example, if you check out branchname~6, my git status line will show branchname~6. Every other status line that I’ve seen falls back to a generic 8-character SHA when you check out a commit that isn’t at the tip of a branch, which is (IMO) wayyyy less useful.

Other git config

I don’t actually know how to use git without these things turned on.

        enabled = true
        conflictstyle = diff3
        autoStash = true
        algorithm = patience

The rerere option means that you can resolve a rebase conflict one time, and have that resolution applied anytime you hit the same rebase conflict in the future.

The diff3 conflict style means that when there’s a merge conflict, not only do you see the other commit, and your commit, you also see the original content before either commit. Those lines are often invaluable to me when I’m trying to figure out what the other person changed, what I changed, and how to combine them.

The autoStash option just means that you can rebase without committing everything first—the rebase command stashes before running, and pops after running. It’s great.

Finally, the patience algorithm optimizes diffs to reduce the (so, so common!) issue where adding a function creates a diff partly in the previous function and partly in the next function. With patience turned on, the diff will show just the new function, where you added it.


That about wraps things up! These functions and aliases definitely aren’t something that I would directly recommend to anyone else, but hopefully seeing the kinds of things that I find useful has given you some inspiration for your own shortcuts. Hpy hkng!