Last week we released the open source social network Lovd By Less. Almost immediately we had requests for people wanting to add code back into Lovd. Lovd had been housed in a private svn repository and distributed via a zip file. This was really good for me, but not so for people that want to take the current version, build on it and later merge whatever newer version of Lovd is available into their app. Although I hadn't yet tried git I knew that it made this sort of branching a lot easier than subversion, so I decided to try it.
Github is the new cool git repository website (social network for geeks). I asked a friend for an invite and got started. Creating a github account and repository is really easy. The instructions are well laid out. The last step is to export your svn repo into the git directory and then commit and push. I've been told that if anyone needs a git invite to let me know and I'll be given invites to send out. So let me know.
So now I had my git repo setup on github and I started sending out the repo's public address. And before I know it I had my first patch. Now what? I read Dr. Nic's blog post about git when it came out, so I went back and read it again. After reading a few times I realized two things: (1) That git is very complicated and (2) Dr. Nic is a way bigger StarWars geek than I ever gave him credit for. I called my friend Josh Owens (of the Web 2.0 Show) and asked for some help. Josh talked me through my first merge and push, but I still didn't quite get it. The next day I was trying to merge another patch (branch) and since Josh wasn't around I went into #github where Tom Preston-Werner (mojombo) helped sort me out quite a bit.
Disclaimer: I am still new at git so I may have things wrong, so if you find an error or omission, please say so in the comments.
Understatement: Git is very different from Subversion. Git is a distributed source control system, which means you can work disconnected from the main repo (branch) and still commit. But you commit to your local repo (branch). The basic flow is (some crucial steps have been left out for now. I'll fill those in later. Don't use the following as a step by step guide, that comes later):
OK, so far so good. This feels a lot like svn. So much that it's time to get overconfident and think we get git. But we don't. And our confidence is about to be shaken like a dry martini. But I have my own repo and people are trying to commit to me. What do I do, how does that work?
In git everything revolves around branches (github calls them forks1). When you create a git repo, that main branch is called "master." Your master branch is kind of like what trunk is in svn. When someone wants to fork/branch your master, they go to your page in github and click the fork button. Now they have a fork/branch of your master branch. When they are ready for you to check out their changes and merge theirs back into your master they'll send you a message via git hub. You'll get this message in your inbox and have no idea what to do with it. Cool.
The first thing to notice is that the url for their branch looks a lot like the url to your master. My "public clone url" is git://github.com/stevenbristol/lovd-by-less.git. Dr. Nic's looks like this: git://github.com/drnic/lovd-by-less.git. The similarities matter.
To get Dr. Nic's branch and merge it into my master I do the following (let's assume I have my master cloned to /lovd):
NOTE: Put the contents of this pastie in the top of your ~/.bash_profile file to see which branch you are currently working in. This is demonstrated in the examples below. The part in parens is the branch. (Another version of the same thing.) (After changing your ~/.bash_profile file you'll either have to restart terminal or source the file to see the changes.)
This is really simple. Here are the steps:
I'm guessing that by now this is really clear.
Technical not correct. "Within a repository/clone you can have branches. A fork is a clone of a repository. Its a conceptual thing." He continues, "I could manually create a fork by cloning 1+ branches from a target repository, then push that repository to my own remote repository. At this stage, I've theoretically got a remote clone of your remote repo. "Forking" is a nice word for this." This is how someone can take Lovd, put it in their own private repo, build their app on top of Lovd, and easily get the latest patches from Lovd into their new killer app.
"A "remote" repo and a "local" repo contain the same information about the commits etc. The difference is that a "local" repo has a checkout of one branch plus a .git folder containing all the commit info. The remote repo just contains the commit etc information, but no checkout (see "git checkout —bare" I think creates a remote repo that you could host on from your laptop's ~/Sites folder for example."
""git checkout -b drnic/master" – I tend to use "local/drnic/master" now – using local/ as a namespace to separate it out from any clashes with the remote repo. I think this is different from my original blog post." fn4. "The -b switch means to create the new branch, based on the current branch."
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