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David
David

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at bluecollardev.io

7 Best Practices for Git Commits

In my experience, a git commit should have the following seven characteristics:

  1. It has a single purpose.
  2. It has an adequate commit message.
  3. It's complete.
  4. It has a limited scope.
  5. It gets reviewed.
  6. It's traceable.
  7. It can be reverted.

Let's review each points.

Single Purpose

When you are working on a new feature you may also find and fix a typo, a small bug or refactor an inconsistency. Resist the temptation to commit changes unrelated to the thing you are working on.

Why not just commit everything? Because it makes the review much harder. When something breaks, it's unclear whether it was caused by the new feature, or the little refactoring you also did.

Instead, use git add -p to select only the relevant changes. The other changes can be committed, reviewed and deployed separately.

Commit Message

Tell what you did. Be specific. "Minor changes", "bugfix" or "Added test" doesn't cut it. "Fix bug where negative input leads to crash" or "Add option to toggle dark mode" are much better.

Completeness

Was the feature incomplete? Or did the reviewer point out that a test is missing? If additional work logically still belongs to the previous commit, add it with git commit --amend.

Don't commit an incomplete feature. All tests should be green. Your commit should leave the system in a consistent state. It should be possible to deploy the system if necessary.

Limited Scope

Qualification to the previous rule:

Are you working on a huge feature? Then your reviewer will be overwhelmed by one large commit. Think of a good way to split your work into consistent commits.

Split by layer: first commit the new business logic and then the user interface components. Or split by sub-feature. Whatever works best.

Review

Every commit should get reviewed. Even the small ones. Why? Because reviews are a good way to encourage feedback, catch bugs, to inform team members about changes and to reinforce your team's coding guidelines.

Traceability

Reference the corresponding Jira/GitHub/... issue in your commit message. This enables you to track the state of a commit in your project management tool of choice.

Reversible

Of course a commit can be reverted with git revert. But sometimes, another system's state is changed by your commit. Does your commit include a database migration? Then please also write and test the rollback function.

Top comments (3)

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seokjeon profile image
Se-ok Jeon

Thx for this! This is really what I wanted. Helped A LOT.
Can I translate in Korean this article? If you don't mind, I wanna share this awesome information in Korean. Surely, There will be a link directing to this original one.

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davidrjenni profile image
David Author

Yes, of course! Glad it helped you 👍

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ikeshavyadav profile image
Keshav Yadav

Thanks for sharing 👏

🌚 Browsing with dark mode makes you a better developer by a factor of exactly 40.

It's a scientific fact.