About Git’s Cherry-Picking

by Git

$ git commit -m 'Edit styles for headlines, fixes #321'

$ git checkout master

$ git cherry-pick h181c289

Hey there…

This post is 970 days old. It was written on 06.01.2012. Please make sure to be careful with the information provided and check a more recent source on this topic.

At /gebrüderheitz we use Git as a version control system as we think this is the best to work together on a level which is easy to learn and work with.

Before we used Git we’ve used SVN but this is by far not as flexible as Git. There are enough posts gathering the difference between Git and SVN so I will not cover any of these.

When working in a team it’s important to keep your different stages of development in sync and control somehow: There is a front-end development going on which is in deep connection with the server-side development; you may also want to develop a new sub-project within your main project; and then there is a tested and fully working live-version of a project.

With Git it’s pretty obvious to use branches to organize different states of the project’s development.

Branches

Branches can consist of the whole project’s files and some more commits covering a specific issue or feature. Also they can show a whole different approach of a project and do not necessarily need to consist of the main project’s files.

For our projects we try to keep these branches tight so we will not have a problem when it comes to merging branches – to let one feature or development approach flow into the main development line. Keep in mind that branches in a project are indeed cheap. So use them where you think they might fit. Don’t think about it to long. It will help you in your whole working-process.

Cherry-Picks

Sometimes, when it comes to bug fixing you don’t want to put fixes in your live-branch. You fix them in your development-branch and commit them over there. The dev-branch might be on a whole other level as your live branch as you’ve developed some things that will be part of a next major update or so. Therefore Git’s cherry-picking has become a perfect addition to our workflow.

With cherry-picking you are able to pull single commits from one branch to another.

Another part where you might want to use cherry-picking is when a colleague and you develop in two different branches and one contributes to the other’s sub-project without changing the branch. There are some other use cases. Please feel free to share where you use cherry-picking through the comments.

How to Use Cherry-Picking

I am using a GUI for doing all the Git-related stuff which is pretty handy and easy. But I think it is important to know how to handle Git via the console anyway.

Here is how to cherry-pick commits.

At first you need to commit your changes in the development branch.

$ git commit -m 'This is some bugfix-message'

You now need the commit-hash for the commit you want to cherry-pick in another branch.

$ git log -1

This will return the meta-data for your latest commit. You can now copy the first 7 or so numbers of the commit-hash. It’s not necessary to copy the whole hash as the hash-partial only needs to be unique above all commits of the project.

Now you need to change your checked out branch to the branch where you want to insert – cherry-pick – this particular commit. While <live> is the name of this branch, do this:

$ git checkout <live>

Keep in mind to commit all your changes in the current branch first or stash them.

Lastly you have to tell the checked out branch to use this commit and do the cherry-pick for real!

$ git cherry-pick <hash-partial>

<hash-partial> is pretty self explaining I guess.

Git now automatically merges the commit into the specific branch.

Merging Branches Later

From what I experienced it is no problem to merge branches later when you cherry-picked some commits. This works just fine!


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