How to Git- Branching & Merging

In this guide, we are going to learn Branching & Merging in Git Version Control System with examples in Git Bash and GitHub. A branch allows the user to switch between these versions so that he can work on different changes independently from each other. Merging allows you to combine the changes which were created by two different branches.

 

Git Branching

Using branch, you can work on different versions of your collection of files. A branch allows you to create variations of your codes. It isolates them from master branch changes. The default branch is most often called master.

Let’s create a branch to our project in different methods.

 

Create branch using Git Bash

You can create a new branch using git branch branch_name command. The following example will create a branch named “aboutus-updates”.

Create Branching
   yp@yp-PC MINGW64 ~/simple-website (master)
   $ git branch contact-updates

 

Now we have created a branch called aboutus-changes. i.e. we have another variation of code. But we are not on the new branch.  Currently, we are still on the master branch. Now, we need to switch to our branch. Use git checkout branch_name command to switch branch. Let’s go back to our example and switch it.

Switch Branch
   yp@yp-PC MINGW64 ~/simple-website (master)
   $ git checkout aboutus-changes
   Switched to branch 'aboutus-changes'

   yp@yp-PC MINGW64 ~/simple-website (aboutus-changes)

 

Now, we are on the aboutus-changes branch. If you make any changes to the repository, it will only affect to aboutus-changes branch, not master branch. Now we have two completely isolated versions of our code. we have a master branch and aboutus-changes branch.

 

Create branch using Github Desktop

To create a branch on GitHub Desktop, Locate Create a new branch icon on the top of GitHub desktop and click. Fill out branch name and create a new branch.

 

Branch in Github Desktop

Git branching & Merging

 

Once you’ve created the new branch, you can publish it to GitHub by clicking on Publish button.

Let’s go ahead and make some changes to our code to understand branching and merging. Let’s add some text to about.html to view some changes on our branch. Before you do the changes, make sure that you’re on the corresponding branch that we are working for.

The following image shows you the changes that made on about.html. Commit the file to aboutus-changes branch.

 

Commit in Github Desktop

 

Once you commit the changes, you can view Git diagram on Git Desktop with each commit on each branch. This diagram grows e the projects become bigger. Let’s go ahead and learn how to merge the Git branches.

 

Merge in GitHub Desktop

Git Merging

If we want to get rid of aboutus-changes branch and take the changes from aboutus-changes and push it on the master branch, then we have to do merging. Git Merging combines the changes which were created by two different branches. You can merge based on branches, tags or commits.

The git merge branch_name command will merge the branch_name with current branch. Let us go back to the aboutus-changes branch and merge it with the master branch.

 

Merge branch using Git Bash

The following code will merge the currently active branch aboutus-changes to the master branch.

Merge Branches
   git checkout aboutus-changes
   git merge master

 

Once yo complete the merging, delete the aboutus-changes branch using the following command.

Delete a Branch
   git branch -D aboutus-changes

 

Merge branch using GitHub Desktop

If you are using GitHub Desktop, you can merge using Pull request button. The following example will merge the currently active branch aboutus-changes to the master branch.

Click on Pull request. and fill out an optional description and send the pull request. The pull request will send to your GitHub account and it will automatically sync with GitHub.

Pull Request

 Git branching & Merging

 

 

To complete the merge, open up GitHub’s web interface, locate our pull request and click on merge the request.

Pull Request on GitHub

 

When pulling from a remote repository, prefer doing a rebase to a merge. This will help to keep the history easier to read. For more details about Git merge see the documentation.

 

Muhsin Yakkiparamban

Muhsin Yakkiparamban is the co-founder of Lauyou Learning. Muhsin holds Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering from KMCT Calicut.

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