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An interactive tutorial for a git branching model
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Interactive Git Tutorial

This tutorial serves as a way to get your hands dirty using git. The branching model used here is based on


You will begin the tutorial by cloning this git repository. From there, you will develop a simple PHP application with a few features. This guide will walk you through each step as you create feature branches, RC branches, and complete a 'production' release of the app.

Step 1: Fork This!

Let's get started! First you'll need to make sure your system has git installed, that you have a GitHub account, and that you've added your local SSH key to your GitHub account.

Fork this repository on GitHub, and then follow the instructions to clone your new repo on your development machine.

Step 2: Create Your next Branch

You should now be in your cloned git-tutorial repository. Let's see what branches you have: $ git branch * master

Right now there's just one branch, master, and you're on it (as denoted by the *). We want a branch called next where you'll develop the next release, so let's create it: $ git branch next $ git branch * master next

Now we've got a next branch, but we're still working in master. Switch to next: $ git checkout next Switched to branch 'next'

Finally, let's push the next branch to origin so other developers can use it: $ git push origin next

Great! Now we can get down to business.

Step 3: Check out the Movie Plot App

Now that you're ready to develop, it would probably be good to know what you're working on. Let's run the app to see what it does: $ php movie_plot.php He's a fat goat wrangler with a lust for antiques. She's a sadistic dentist with a penchant for melodrama. They fight crime.

Ok, so it's a PHP script that generates amazingly profitable movie plot ideas. Take a moment now to browse through the code for movie_plot.php to see how it works.

It's a pretty straight-forward script. There are arrays for adjectives, occupations, and quirks, which the script puts together Mad Libs style to get an action movie plot.

Step 4: Feature Development

Your bosses at the movie studio have 3 new features they want you to develop. You can do these in any order, and you'll want to use feature branches to keep your work organized. You won't know until the end of this exercise which features will actually be included in the next release.

To create a feature branch, first think of a name and then create it: $ git checkout -b randomness Switched to a new branch 'randomness' Note: we used git checkout -b to both create the branch and start working in it.)

Do your work in movie_plot.php, and then commit it: $ git commit -a -m "implemented randomness change" Note: the -a option will commit all modified files.

Once you're done working on a particular feature branch and you've committed your changes, you can start the next feature by branching off of next again: $ git branch new_branch next

When all your feature branches are done, move on to the next step.

Feature: Improve Randomness

The execs have noticed that some plots come up more often than others. They've seen one too many buddy cop flicks, and they want you to fix it! The reason is that the script is using PHP's rand() function, when it should really be using the improved mt_rand() function instead. For this task, you need only replace rand() with mt_rand().

Feature: More Content

Right now, the choices for adjectives, occupations, and quirks are a little sparse. For this task, add at least 1 more choice to each array.

Feature: Prevent Duplication

Sometimes the script will generate a plot where both lead characters have the same quirk or occupation adjective. Talk about boring! Modify the script so that her quirk, occupation, and adjective is never the same as his.


Oh no! The studio execs have noticed a typo in the movie plot generator! Instead of 'grisly', the program has been creating 'girsly' characters! The screenwriters are threatening to go on strike, so you'd better fix this fast.

Since we don't have time to wait for the next release for this fix, we will create a hotfix branch: $ git checkout -b hotfix-0.1.1 master (Notice that we branched directly from master so we can deploy this fix to production.)

Go fix the typo in movie_plot.php, and then commit it: $ git commit -a -m "fixed typo"

Now you need to merge that hotfix back into master and next, so it can be deployed to production, and also included in future releases. $ git checkout master $ git merge --no-ff hotfix-0.1.1 $ git tag -a 0.1.1 $ git checkout next $ git merge --no-ff hotfix-0.1.1

Now that we're done with that hotfix branch, we can delete it: $ git branch -d hotfix-0.1.1

This fix needs to go live now, so push your master branch back to origin: $ git push origin master

And push next so other developers get that backported fix: $ git push origin next

Phew! Now the operations team can push the app into production. Good work!

Step 6: Prepare for Release

Your bosses have decided they are ready for a new release of the movie plot app. They only want to include the randomness improvement and the duplication prevention features, since they still need the studio execs to vet the content you added.

Go ahead and merge the appropriate feature branches into next, and delete each feature branch once it's merged: $ git checkout next $ git merge --no-ff randomness $ git branch -d randomness $ git merge --no-ff dedupe $ git branch -d dedupe Note: make sure you use the branch names you chose. Note: we used the --no-ff option to prevent a fast-forward merge. This way git will preserve the history of the feature branch.

If you have conflicts, you will need to edit movie_plot.php to resolve them, use git add to add the file to the index, and then commit.

Now that next reflects a state of the app that is ready for acceptance testing, we'll create a release-candidate branch: $ git checkout -b rc-0.2.0 next

Test the application to make sure it is all working as expected. If there are bugs, fix them and commit the fix directly to rc-0.2.0. Remember that only bugfixes should be committed to an rc branch!

Step 7: Push the Release

Our new version is ready to go live! Just merge the rc branch into master: $ git checkout master $ git merge rc-0.2.0

At this point you can tag master with the new version number: $ git tag -a 0.2.0

Then push the new release back to the origin server: $ git push origin master

If you made any fixes in the rc branch, merge it back into next, then push: $ git checkout next $ git merge rc-0.2.0 $ git push origin next

Lastly, delete the rc branch since we're done with it: $ git branch -d rc-0.2.0


Aside from having a top-notch movie plot generator, you should also now have a pretty good feel for how to work with git and this particular branching model.


A successful Git branching model: Understanding Git Conceptually: Git Documentation:

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