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Davide Santangelo
Davide Santangelo

Posted on • Updated on

Git Flow or Trunk-based Development?

Software development is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. One of the key decisions that developers have to make when starting a new project is choosing the right development methodology. In recent years, two methodologies have gained popularity among software developers: Git Flow and Trunk-based Development. In this article, we will compare and contrast these two methodologies and help you choose the best one for your project.

Git Flow

Git Flow is a branching model for Git, which was introduced by Vincent Driessen in 2010. This model is based on two main branches: master and develop. The master branch contains production-ready code, while the develop branch contains code that is being developed and tested.

In addition to these two main branches, Git Flow uses several other branches to facilitate feature development and bug fixing. These branches include feature, release, and hotfix branches.

A feature branch is created when a new feature is being developed. Developers can work on this branch without affecting the main codebase. Once the feature is complete, it is merged into the develop branch.

A release branch is created when the code is ready for deployment. This branch is used to perform final tests and fix any bugs that are found. Once the release is complete, it is merged into both the master and develop branches.

A hotfix branch is created when a critical bug is discovered in the production code. This branch is used to fix the bug and deploy the fix as quickly as possible. Once the fix is complete, it is merged into both the master and develop branches.


  • It provides a clear and structured approach to software development.
  • It allows for parallel development of multiple features.
  • It provides a stable master branch, which always contains production-ready code.


  • It can be time-consuming and complicated, especially for small projects.
  • It can lead to merge conflicts and delayed releases.
  • It can result in a bloated codebase, as feature branches are not always removed after they are merged.

Trunk-based development

Trunk-based Development is a software development methodology where all developers work on a single branch, known as the trunk. This approach emphasizes continuous integration and delivery, with developers committing changes to the trunk multiple times a day.

To ensure that the codebase remains stable, Trunk-based Development relies heavily on automated testing and code reviews. Before a developer can commit their changes to the trunk, their code must pass a set of automated tests and be reviewed by at least one other developer.


  • It simplifies the development process and reduces the risk of merge conflicts.
  • It encourages continuous integration and delivery, which can lead to faster releases.
  • It results in a leaner codebase, as there are no long-lived feature branches.


  • It requires a high level of discipline and communication among developers.
  • It can be challenging to maintain a stable codebase, especially if automated testing is not robust.
  • It may not be suitable for larger, more complex projects.

Which Methodology Should You Choose?

Choosing the right methodology for your project depends on several factors, including project size, team size, development speed, and risk tolerance. For small, fast-moving projects with a small team, Trunk-based Development may be the best option. On the other hand, for larger, more complex projects with multiple teams, Git Flow may be more suitable.

In conclusion, Git Flow and Trunk-based Development are both valid methodologies for software development, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the choice between these two methodologies will depend on your project's specific requirements, and you should choose the one that best fits your team's skills and goals.

Top comments (2)

nulf profile image
nulf • Edited

That is a hard one! I'm using both in projects at work and I do see a lot of merit for both workflows. I'm more comfortable with gitflow as that has been my go-to in my three years of professional development. The velocity of trunk-based development is enjoyable, but I think I will have to go with gitflow just based on experience.

As I level up as a developer going forward, I wouldn't be surprised if I shift to trunk-based as my prefered style of git strategy.

alediaferia profile image
Alessandro Diaferia • Edited

Trunk-based development does not necessarily negate branches. The idea is that you can still use them for pull-requests before mergeing back into master as long as such branches are kept small in size. Definition of small, of course, changes and is contextual to the project but the goal is that the changes are so small that they get checked in as frequently as possible. Checking into master as frequently as possible, coupled with continuous deployment, ensures that in case of failures the issues are easy to address because the amount of changes since the last successful deployment is very small.
Trunk-based development is usually coupled with feature flags because you still want control over whether to enable a functionality or not, regardless of the code being already in production or not. This is especially useful while the functionality is still in development.

I personally strive for trunk-based development because it forces you to think in terms of continuous flow of work but requires discipline as well as an additional preparatory work to enable it.