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Chris Corner: Git it

Julia Evans has released what she’s saying is one of her most popular zines to date: How Git Works.

I don’t think you’d regret reading it. I imagine most of us get by with knowing just enough Git to do our jobs, but are probably using 5% of what it can really do. Being very strong with Git will almost surely benefit you in your career. Imagine helping a superior out of a sticky situation where it might look like code was lost or otherwise screwed up. Being the solution during an emotional time is clutch. Surely this pairs nicely with Oh Shit, Git!, a real classic from Katie-Sylor Miller which I see has been revitalized with Julia here.


Just the other day here at CodePen Headquarters, I saw a co-worker solve an issue with git bisect. Have you even heard of that?! Imagine there is a bug in your code, but you have absolutely no idea when it happened or where in the code it might be. That’s not a good feeling, but it’s exactly where git bisect comes in. As best I understand it, it sets the HEAD of your repo back in time some amount, and there, you test if the bug is present and you can say git bisect good or git bisect bad. Then it moves the HEAD and you keep testing and eventually it gets closer and closer to the exact commit (or at least a range of commits) where the bug happened. Then you can look at the changed files in those commits and figure out where in the code the bug may have came from. So cool!


I certainly know developers who know Git and work with it exclusively at the command line entirely as-provided. But I find it more common among the command line types that they at least have some aliases set up for the most common things they do. Those might be their own aliases, like they’ll make gco do a git checkout, but it’s worth knowing git itself allows you to make aliases within itself, which could be good since they won’t conflict with anything else. (Have I told you how long I had cp aliased to move to our local CodePen project directory? 🤣).


A much more elaborate take on git aliases is called Gut. With it, you don’t git commit anything (with all the params and whatnot you have to also pass), you gut save which launches a little wizard that asks you questions, and then it does the proper git stuff with the information you give it.

I could see that being great for a beginner, but maybe feel a little too slow as you get more comfortable at the command line. Except when it comes to the more advanced stuff and how it looks designed to get you out of binds. The fix and undo commands like awfully helpful and are the kind of things where I can never remember the proper commands.


Paweł Grzybek lays out a classic situation:

Let’s say that we are halfway through the feature, intensely focused on a task, when a critical bug needs to be fixed out of the blue. Happens to us all the time! Should we stash the current changes? Should we quickly smash git add . && git commit -m "wip" and promise that we will sort this mess out later?

His answer is no, it’s using git worktrees. It solves the issue by literally making another copy of your project on disk. And you can open and work on it separately but it all goes to the same repo ultimately. So you can leave your half-done uncommitted work on another worktree while you hop to the other to do work. Me, I’m mostly cool with git stash to tuck stuff away while I go work on something else, or even just the ol “work in progress” or “saving work” commit like Paweł mentioned. It’s not pretty but culturally it’s fine on our project. But I can see how you could get into a groove with worktrees, particularly if your editor supports it nicely.


Phew! We probably talked about Git too much, eh? I know nobody cares. Now let’s go back to just doing the 3-4 commands we know everyday, just with a few more resources in our pocket when we need them.

I gotta leave you with something else. (Digs through bag of hot links.) Ah here we go. This video rules: Flash is dead so I rebuilt it with javascript. Andrew Jakubowicz walks us through building an interface with a pretty modern and lightweight set of tools. Andrew works for Google on Lit, so it’s sort of a big excuse to show off working with Web Components, but it’s a fun ride. At 8 minutes more happens than a typical hour long video.


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