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Patterns for writing better git commit messages

helderburato profile image Helder Burato Berto Updated on ・2 min read

I created this note on my personal blog to share some patterns and ways I commonly follow to write my Git commit messages.


A good commit should complete the following sentence

A properly formed Git commit subject line should always be able to complete the following sentence:
If applied, this commit <will your subject line here>

Commit Sample

See an example of commit below:

[type](optional scope): [subject]

[optional body]

[optional footer]

Types

Must be one of the following:

  • build - Build related changes
  • ci - CI related changes
  • chore - Build process or auxiliary tool changes
  • docs - Documentation only changes
  • feat - A new feature
  • fix - A bug fix
  • perf - A code change that improves performance
  • refactor - A code change that neither fixes a bug or adds a feature
  • revert - Reverting things
  • style - Markup, white-space, formatting, missing semi-colons...
  • test - Adding missing tests

Scope

A scope may be provided to a commit’s type, to provide additional contextual information and is contained within parenthesis, e.g., feat(parser): add the ability to parse arrays.

Subject

The subject contains a succinct description of the change:

  • Use the imperative, present tense: "change" not "changed" nor "changes"
  • No dot (.) at the end.

Body

Just as in the subject, use the imperative, present tense: "change" not "changed" nor "changes". The body should include the motivation for the change and contrast this with previous behavior.

The 7 rules of a great commit message:

  1. Separate subject from the body with a blank line
  2. Limit the subject line to 50 characters
  3. Capitalize the subject line
  4. Do not end the subject line with a period
  5. Use the imperative mood in the subject line
  6. Wrap the body at 72 characters
  7. Use the body to explain what and why vs. how

Commit Template

Go to my git commit template

References

Posted on by:

helderburato profile

Helder Burato Berto

@helderburato

Front-end Developer @ Cheesecake Labs • Learning, practicing, and creating this is my motto 💥

Discussion

markdown guide
 

These are great ideas. Could you consider a post with some solid examples to go with these practices?

 
 

Thanks for the feedback.
Yeah! I'm thinking to make a more structured post with these topics, I created this one as a note in my blog and just shared here to see opinions about it.

 
 

Good ideas. Adding examples will be good to see.

Here are my rules that I stick on to:

  • Use simple present - Update login button to use the new API
  • Begin fixes with "Fix" and include ticket number if possible - Fix #234: User cannot log in with email
  • If pausing the work today and planning to continue tomorrow, start with [WIP] (Work-In-Progress) - [WIP] improving the login process
  • Begin temporary commits (usually for testing out something) with [TEMP] - [TEMP] add a temporary logout button
 

Nice tips!
The unique one I try to maintain in the body is the ticket ID because in my case it's just to be tracked in Jira and isn't to be shown.

 

We like to think:

"Derek was trying to ____________________________."

But our projects are green-field and not toooo crazy.

add the user-card component
adjust loud-voice clamp
add padding to the page-header component

 

I've created an account to give a like. This comment gave a good laugh; when I read it I initially though that the pattern is literally "Derek was trying to ____________________________."... if you know what I mean. ;)

 
 

I have the same feeling here when I read the first time. hahaha

 

My name is Derek - and I approve this git message. hahaha

I think we started doing this because / well, we just wanted to be consistent. So - we read somewhere that people use "imperative voice" or something...

But it wouldn't be the first time we decided to do something a certain way and then changed it... so, always looking for "THE BEST" way. ha! Always trying to improve... but we can lazy-load it.

 

Thanks for the reply and I really enjoy this pattern you talked about.

 

I's a nice idea to write good commit messages... but in the case of simple tasks it becomes more like "fix #851" which is picked by Jira or other tool automatically... so you can click on a message (if you use an IDE) and it takes you to the description.

One could copy the subject and description from Jira, but sometimes the fix is simple (like change + to - somewhere), but the bug is so weird that it's impossible to fit it in a commit message which wouldn't end up being cryptic. For example, in a situation when elephant extinction level goes down and it is a full moon, timestamps are shifted by a millisecond in systems which have an odd IP number.

 

Verb tense in commit messages is always a fun one, and each "tense" has a reason (IMO.. comment away but I'm not passionate enough to debate)

Past: What happened to the code, good for merge
Present: Current state of the code, middle-ground for merge/PR
Future: What will happen to the code, good for PR

 

It was a great article. And it's informative. If you want to do it in gui and add emoji support too. I would recommend this vscode plugin

marketplace.visualstudio.com/items...

I have been using this extension for an year and is awesome.

 

Thanks for the suggestion!
Some months ago I started using the Emacs + Magit and IMO it's awesome to use together.

 

I absolutely agree to your approach. I've created a highly configurable commit message checker to ensure the right format and valid types and scopes. See github.com/qoomon/git-conventional....

 

That's really nice, I'll check it.
Thanks for the share.

 
 

Don't forget to put an Emoji at the end of each commit 🧐🤪🚀

 

Personally, I really like emojis hahahh

 

Really useful article! I end up not focusing on the commit messages as much as I should. I'll try to follow these rules from now on.

 

Thanks for the reply!
I'm glad the tips were helpful.

 

good to know, I am always curios to know how other people use git commits, isn't your approach (Angular convention)?
-BTW I checked your github, looks that you don't use your idea that much, is there cases where you think it's too much to nail a uniform commits?

 

Thanks for the reply.
I commonly use the conventional rules, I think it's the same used as the angular convention.

In a repository like my dotfiles I keep in a different way, because I'm not working with a team and organize the commits based in the scopes without types, considering it's just me in the project I make a commits pattern that works for me, but it's very personal.

 

Great, thanks. I personally would appreciate 2-3 examples for clarification 😊

 

Nice to know that! I'll share more examples to clarify.
Thanks for your reply.

 
 
 

Great article! Would you mind if I translate this to Spanish in my blog?

 

I really appreciate that, no problem, just mention the original post. :)

 
 

Cool!
I was add "ed" to type word
ex1) Fixed pagination gem bug
ex2) Changed pagination1 gem to pagination2 gem
i think your format is pretty and cool