Useful git commands for everyday use every beginner front-end developer should know

Useful git commands for everyday use every beginner front-end developer should know

Git is a service control software, and it lets you track your files over-time. You will easily find yourself in the situations where you or one of your colleagues screw things up in your code, and you want to get back to the last working version of your software. You probably have already your service control system: think about it, how many times did you save your file using names like “final”, “final-final”, “super-latest-final”, this is because you need to keep track of your changes and git help to do it in a better fancy way.

Things like: backup and restore, synchronization, undo, track changes, sandboxing, branching, and merging are easily managed through Git.

When it comes to Git, I found it very difficult in the early days to find a concise explanation of what this software is capable of, and how to use it. After this article, you will have an understanding of primary Git usage and commands.

Since this article is written for a basic understanding, you will find on this website in the following days a more in-depth explanation of everyday commands you will need to know to work in a team of developers such as diff, log amend, rebase… so be sure to stay tuned and to subscribe to the newsletter at the end of this page.

Configure Git

So first thing first, after installing Git, you will need to configure your credentials globally:

git config --global user.name "John Doe"
git config --global user.email john.doe@example.com

Initialize a repository

You can now start using Git for tracking your changes, to initialize a repository, inside your project folder only:

git init

Status

Since now your repository is initialized you can now check the status of your files with:

git status

Locally your git files could be in either on one of these three states:

  • Staged
  • Committed
  • Modified

Staged files are files added to the index of your repo, to understand better what this means, take a look at the graphs below:

Git first schema

After you modify your files, you want to add them to the staging area, which is a place you want to store them before committing them. Committing files let you create a snapshot of them and save them to the local database. Files are modified if you made some changes to them, but they are not yet committed. Let’s take a look at some commands…

Staging files is done by using the “add”:

git add file1 file2 file3

you can add all modified files to the staging area using:

git add .

Simple right?! Well but what if you made a mistake and want to unstage staged files? You can use the “rm” command:

git -rm --cached file1 file2 file3

to remove folders remember to add the “-r” parameter:

git -rm --cached -r folder name

Remember you can use indicate you want to remove all files and folders using the ”.” sign:

git -rm --cached -r .

Committing your changes

To take a live snapshot of your current staging area, you will want to commit the files using an explicative message:

git commit -m "Initial commit"

We have talked about the staging area, but what is it exactly? This has always confused me in the beginning, here’s both a repo, “object database”, and a staging area, called “index”. To give you a better understanding, I made a simple schema to help you visualize what we have talked so far:

Git second schema

Pushing online your committed files

Now, we have our local repo, but we want to share our work with our team,the entire world, or have an online repository for personal use. My advice is to signup for one of those two most used services:** GitHub, **Bitbucket. Both of them are free and let you have private repositories in their free tier. Once you logged in you want to create a repository, it is a pretty straightforward step, once you have done it you want to create a connection from your local repository to the remote one:

git remote add origin https://www.github.com/repository-name

You can now push committed local changes to the remote server using:

git push origin master

If you want to see changes others have made, but that are not in your local repo you can use:

git fetch origin

this see what file has been modified, but it doesn’t merge it in your local repository, to do it just:

git pull origin master

To summarize what we have talked so far take a look at this picture:

Git third schema

Other useful commands

There are tons of git commands, but the following are extremely useful:

git diff

let you see all the changes made in the git repo, this command mark with ”+++” files with additions and ”---” files with removals.

To see all of the git history, you can use the following command:

git log

To summarize

If you have followed the steps above, you should now have a better understanding of what Git is and why it is useful, plus you can make a simple git workflow on your own.

In the next article, we will talk about more in-depth git commands, be sure to stay up to date subscribing to the newsletter in the box at the end of the page, no spam here I promise. Plus if you liked the article or you have any questions leave a comment!

You can take a look at all git commands by using the official git cheatsheet Git Cheatsheet or explore more advanced topics using the Git Handbook.

Fancy Tip

Who said Git should be boring, give your git messages a decorative look adding an emoji before the comment, you can manually add icons to your words adding the “:iconname:” sign or you can use a useful VSCode extension called Git Moji. Take a look at this screenshot:

Git fourth schema

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