merge single - What Git branching models work for you?
multiple flow (5)
Our company is currently using a simple trunk/release/hotfixes branching model and would like advice on what branching models work best for your company or development process.
Workflows / branching models
Below are the three main descriptions of this I have seen, but they are partially contradicting each other or don't go far enough to sort out the subsequent issues we've run into (as described below). Thus our team so far defaults to not so great solutions. Are you doing something better?
Merging vs rebasing (tangled vs sequential history)
pull --rebaseor wait with merging back to the mainline until your task is finished? Personally I lean towards merging since this preserves a visual illustration of on which base a task was started and finished, and I even prefer
merge --no-fffor this purpose. It has other drawbacks however. Also many haven't realized the useful property of merging - that it isn't commutative (merging a topic branch into master does not mean merging master into the topic branch).
I am looking for a natural workflow
Sometimes mistakes happen because our procedures don't capture a specific situation with simple rules. For example a fix needed for earlier releases should of course be based sufficiently downstream to be possible to merge upstream into all branches necessary (is the usage of these terms clear enough?). However it happens that a fix makes it into the master before the developer realizes it should have been placed further downstream, and if that is already pushed (even worse, merged or something based on it) then the option remaining is cherry-picking, with its associated perils. What simple rules like such do you use? Also in this is included the awkwardness of one topic branch necessarily excluding other topic branches (assuming they are branched from a common baseline). Developers don't want to finish a feature to start another one feeling like the code they just wrote is not there anymore
How to avoid creating merge conflicts (due to cherry-pick)?
What seems like a sure way to create a merge conflict is to cherry-pick between branches, they can never be merged again? Would applying the same commit in revert (how to do this?) in either branch possibly solve this situation? This is one reason I do not dare to push for a largely merge-based workflow.
How to decompose into topical branches?
We realize that it would be awesome to assemble a finished integration from topic branches, but often work by our developers is not clearly defined (sometimes as simple as "poking around") and if some code has already gone into a "misc" topic, it can not be taken out of there again, according to the question above? How do you work with defining/approving/graduating/releasing your topic branches?
Proper procedures like code review and graduating would of course be lovely.
But we simply cannot keep things untangled enough to manage this - any suggestions? integration branches, illustrations?
Below is a list of related questions:
- What are some good strategies to allow deployed applications to be hotfixable?
- Workflow description for Git usage for in-house development
- Git workflow for corporate Linux kernel development
- How do you maintain development code and production code? (thanks for this PDF!)
- git releases management
- Git Cherry-pick vs Merge Workflow
- How to cherry-pick multiple commits
- How do you merge selective files with git-merge?
- How to cherry pick a range of commits and merge into another branch
- ReinH Git Workflow
- git workflow for making modifications you’ll never push back to origin
- Cherry-pick a merge
- Proper Git workflow for combined OS and Private code?
- Maintaining Project with Git
- Why cant Git merge file changes with a modified parent/master.
- Git branching / rebasing good practices
- When will "git pull --rebase" get me in to trouble?
- How are DVCS used in large teams?
I think, and I might be wrong, that one of the things that's most misunderstood about git is its distributed nature. This makes it very different to say subversion in the ways you can work although you can mimick SVN behaviour should you want. The problem is pretty much any workflow will do, which is great but also misleading.
If I have my understanding of kernel development (I'll focus on that) right, everyone has their own git repository for developing the kernel. There is one repository, linux-2.6.git, looked after by Torvalds, that acts as the release repository. People clone from here if they wish to start developing a feature against the "release" branch.
Other repositories do some development. The idea is to clone from linux-2.6, branch out as many times as you like until such a point as you've got a working "new" feature. Then, when this is ready, you may make it available to someone considered trusted, who will pull this branch from your repository into theirs and merge it into the mainstream. In the linux kernel this happens on several levels (trusted lieutenants) until it reaches linux-2.6.git at which point it becomes "the kernel".
Now here's where it gets confusing. Branch names don't need to be consistent across repositories at all. So I can
git pull origin master:vanilla-code and get a branch from the
origin's master in a branch in my repository called
vanilla-code. Providing I know what's going on, it really doesn't matter - it is distributed in the sense that all repositories are peers to each other and not just shared across several computers like SVN.
So, with all of this in mind:
- I think it is up to each programmer how they do their branching. All you need is a central repository for managing releases etc. Trunk could be
head. Releases could be tags or branches and hotfixes are probably branches in themselves. In fact, I'd probably do releases as branches so you can keep patching them.
- I would merge and not rebase. If for example you take a repository, clone it, branch and do some dev, then pull from your
originyou should, in your repository, probably make another branch and merge the latest
yourbranchso that someone else can pull your changes with as little effort as possible. There is very rarely a need to truly rebase, in my experience.
- I think it's a case of understanding the way Git works and what it can do. It does take a while and a lot of good communication - I only truly started to understand what's going on when I began using git with other developers and even now, some things I'm not sure about.
- Merge conflicts are useful. I know, I know, you want it all to work, but, the fact is code changes and you do need to merge the results into something that works. Merge conflicts are in fact just more programming. I've never found an easy explanation for what to do about them, so here it is: note the files that have merge conflicts, go and change them to what they should be,
git add .and then
- However it suits. As I've said, each users git repository is their own to play with and branch names don't need to be the same. If you had a staging repository, for example, you could enforce a naming schema, but you don't need to for each developer, only in the release repo.
- This is the merge stage. You only merge into release branches etc when you consider code to be reviewed/pass quality testing.
I hope that helps. I realise VonC as just posted a very similar explanation... I can't type fast enough!
Edit some further thoughts on how to use git in a commercial setting, as this seems relevant to the OP from the comments:
- The release repository, we'll call it
product.git, is accessible by a number of senior programmers / technical people responsible for actually looking after the product itself. They are analogous to the role of maintainers in OSS.
- These programmers probably also in part lead development of new versions, so they might also code themselves and maintain varios repositories. They might manage staging repositories for really new features and they might also have their own repositories.
- Below them are programmers responsible for developing individual bits. For example, someone might be responsible for the UI work. They therefore manage the UI.git repository.
- Below them are the actual programmers who develop the features as their full day to day job.
So what happens? Well, everyone pulls at the start of each day from the "upstream" source i.e. the release repository (which will also probably contain the latest material from the previous days development). Everyone does this, directly. This will go on a branch in their repository, probably called "master" or maybe if you're me called "latest". The programmer will then do some work. This work might be something they're not sure about, so they make a branch, do the work. If it doesn't work, they can delete the branch and go back. If it does, they will have to merge into the main branch they're currently working on. We'll say this is a UI programmer working on
latest-ui so he does
git checkout latest-ui followed by
git merge abc-ui-mywhizzynewfeature. He then tells his technical lead (the UI lead) hey, I've completed such a task, pull from me. So the UI lead does
git pull user-repo lastest-ui:lastest-ui-suchafeature-abc. The UI lead then looks at it on that branch and says, actually, that's very good, I'll merge it into
ui-latest. He might then tell everyone below him to pull from him on their
ui-latest branches or whatever name they've given them, and so the feature gets explored by the devs. If the team is happy, the UI lead might ask the testing lead to pull from him and merge the changes. This propagates out to everyone (downstream of the change) who tests it and submits bug reports etc. Finally, if the feature passes testing etc, one of the top technical leads might merge it into the current working copy of the program, at which point all the changes are then propagated back down. And so on.
It's not a "traditional" way of working and is designed to be "peer driven" rather than "hierarchical" like SVN/CVS. In essence, everyone has commit access, but only locally. It is access to the repository and which repository you designate as the release repo that allows you to use hierarchy.
Personally, I try and keep only release-ready code in the master branch.
When I work on a new feature or bugfix I do that in a branch. I also unit-test in the branch. If everything works out OK, only then do I merge/rebase back into master.
I try and use common branch naming conventions as well, such as:
The most troubling feature new developers to DVCS need to realize is about the publication process:
- you can import (fetch/pull) whatever remote repo you need
- you can publish (push) to any (bare) repo you want
From that, you can respect a few rules to make your questions easier:
- only rebase a branch if it hasn't been pushed (not pushed since the last rebase)
- only push to a bare repo (mandatory since Git1.7)
- follow Linus's advices on rebase and merges
Workflows / branching models:
each workflow is there to support a release management process, and that is tailored for each project.
What I can add to the workflow you mention is: each developer should not create a feature branch, only a "current dev" branch, because the truth is: the developer often doesn't know what exactly his/her branch will produce: one feature, several (because it ended up being too complex a feature), none (because not ready in time for release), another feature (because the original one had "morphed"),...
Only an "integrator" should established official feature branches on a "central" repo, which can then be fetched by developers to rebase/merge the part of their work that fits that feature.
Merging vs rebasing (tangled vs sequential history):
I like my answer you mention ("Workflow description for git usage for in-house development")
I am looking for a natural workflow:
for fixes, it can help associating each fix with a ticket from a bug tracking, which helps the developer remember where (i.e. on which branch, i.e. a dedicated branch "for fixes") he/she should commit such modifications.
Then hooks can help protect a central repo against pushes from non-validated bug-fixes or from branches from which one shouldn't push. (no specific solution here, all this need to be adapted to your environment)
How to avoid creating merge conflicts (due to cherry-pick)?
As stated by Jakub Narębski in his answer, cherry-picking should be reserved for rare situations where it is required.
If your setup involves a lot of cherry-picking (i.e. "it is not rare"), then something is off.
Would applying the same commit in revert (how to do this?)
git revert should take care of that, but that is not ideal.
How to decompose into topical branches?
As long as a branch as not yet been pushed everywhere, a developer should reorganize its history of commits (once he/she finally see the development takes a more definitive and stable shape) into:
- several branches if needed (one by clear identified feature)
- a coherent set of commits within one branch (see Trimming Git Checkins)
Proper procedures like code review and graduating ?
Integration branches (in a dedicated integration) repo can help the developer to:
- rebase his/her development on top of that remote integration branch (pull --rebase)
- solve locally
- push the development to that repo
- check with the integrator that doesn't result in a mess ;)
A model that I've used with good results is the following:
A "blessed" repo everybody pushes and pulls to/from, basically a client-server topology.
There's no master branch so no developer can push any code into "mainline".
All developments happen on topic branches. We namespaced names to easily detect who is responsible for it: jn/newFeature or jn/issue-1234
There is also a near 1-to-1 mapping between branches and kanban/scrum cards on the whiteboard.
To release a branch it is pushed to the blessed repo and the kanban-card is moved to ready for review.
Then, if the branch is accepted by the review, it is a candidate for a release.
A release happens when a set of accepted branches are merged together and tagged with a version number.
By pushing the new tag to the blessed repo there is a new possible base for new features.
To avoid merge conflicts developers are kindly requested to update (merge) their unreleased branches to the latest release tag.
Changing the branch locally is quite easy...
If you are on the branch you want to change the name, simply do this:
git branch -m my_new_branch
Otherwise, if you are on
master or any other branch other than the one you'd like to change the name, simply do:
git branch -m my_old_branch my_new_branch
Also, I create the image below to show this in action in a command line, in this case, you are on
master branch for example: