If you’re just getting started with Git, understanding the git commit command is essential. Committing your work is the whole reason for using a versioning tool, so it’s important to know what a commit really is and how to use the command.
In this post, we’ll outline everything you need to know about git commit. We’ll explain its many uses and specialized options, as well as when you should use it.
If you don’t have Git installed on your system, download and install it. You will also need some familiarity with the command line for this post.
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Let’s get started. Before you can commit changes in Git, you first have to add those changes to the staging area. The staging area is a temporary holding place for new or modified files that you want to include in your next commit.
Before learning how git commits work there is some prerequisite and those are:
- How to Create a Repository?
- Navigating to another directory through Git Bash?
- How to use the Git Status command?
- How to use Git add command?
- How to Use Remove command?
Now in this tutorial, we are going to learn about:
- How to create a file in Git?
- How to add the file to the staging area?
- Committing the changes in Git?
- Committing the changes in Git without a commit message?
Git Commit Fundamentals
It’s important that we’re all on the same page with some of the basics related to the git commit command.
What Is a Git Commit?
In Git, the word “commit” can be used as a verb or a noun. When you make changes to your project, you “commit” those changes. This creates a new commit, which is basically just a snapshot of your project at that point in time.
A commit, or “safe point”, is a saved milestone in the history of a project. Each commit has an identifier so you can go back and view it later if needed. Each commit also references one or more parents, with the exception of the first commit which is called the root commit. The revision history of the repository can be seen by viewing all past commits and their relationships to one another.
How Do I Commit a File in Git?
It’s time to get down to business and learn how to commit changes in Git.
How to Create a Directory Using GitBash
To create a directory using the Gitbash you can use the mkdir command like below:
mkdir <directory name>
Now let’s Switch to That created directory, in our case the directory name is “commit_example“
After switching to the working directory, now we need to convert that directory to the repository so that we can execute the command there.
How to Create a file using Git Bash
To create a file through Git Bash, you will first need to create a repository and navigate to this directory as your present working directory. Once you are in the correct repository, type the following command:
touch <filename with extension>
After creating the empty file, let us try to write something inside the file. so for writing into the file, you can use the below commands.
echo “Your Message” > filename with extension
Let’s try to commit the changes we made to the file. First, we need to add the file to the staging area. We learned in our previous blog posts that this is necessary before committing changes.
How to add the file to the staging area?
We must be in the staging area to commit changes. Let’s see what happens when we try to commit without adding the file to the staging area first. Type the following command:
The “commit” command is used to save changes. However, if you try to commit and Git says there are no changes to save, that’s because there are no files in the “staging area”. In order for a file’s changes to be saved when using Git, the file must first be in the staging area. To add the files to the staging area you can use the below command.
git add <filename>
How to commit a file in Git?
Although the commit process is huge and we can’t discuss all of it in one tutorial, we’ll slowly cover it more in future tutorials. For now, know that committing your changes is a simple command in Git. And to commit in Git we need to enter the following command:
git commit -m “This is my first commit”
After executing this command you can notice the file got committed with the message “This is my first commit on Git”. In the above case, we have written the message in GitBash only. Now lets us see how we can do Git commit with the default editor which we mentioned during the installation.
If you forget to add the -m flag when writing your commit message, don’t worry! You can still commit by writing the commit message in the text editor. Just open up the notepad++ (or whatever text editor you’re using for git bash) and write your commit message there.
Note: During Our Git Installation we have set the Noptepad++ as the default editor.
On entering the above command it will open the configured default editor :
You can enter the commit message on that editor
After Writing the commit message you can press ctrl+s to save the commit message and close the editor. On Closing the editor the changes will commit with the commit messages.
earlier in this post, we have performed the commit operation in 2 ways:
- With the help of the Gitbash
- With the help of the Git editor which is configured during the installation
But, in those sections, we tried to commit when there were actually some changes to commit. What if there aren’t any? For that first commit all the changes in Git with the proper commit command and message. Once that is done, type the following command:
If you have nothing to commit, the terminal will tell you that there is nothing to commit without opening the text editor. However, if your text editor opens after running the command, it means there is something to commit.
What is Commit Message?
Please make sure that each git commit has an associated commit message. The goal of the message is to explain the reason behind the change. This will help us understand your code changes better.
You can make your git commit messages just a single line, or include a summary followed by a more detailed body – it all depends on the change. It’s also common to add metadata like issue ids from project management or bug-tracking software is also common and helpful to include.
What’s a Good Git Commit Message?
It’s important to have a good commit message so that others can understand the change you made and why it matters. A detailed explanation of how the change was made is not necessary, since they can see the difference in code.
A well-written commit message will help explain what the change is and why it matters. It’s not necessary to include details about how the change was made since we can see that easily in the difference.
- The message should be in the imperative mode (so, “Add button” instead of “Added button”).
- In messages that need a separate body, they should be separated by a blank line.
- The subject line should be limited to 50 characters.
Why do we need to have commit messages?
Do not commit without a message as Git does not recommend this. Commit messages are used to track the changes made during a particular commit, so if there is no message it becomes difficult to know what has been changed. This makes it hard to debug and fix issues later on.
You can still commit without a message in Git, although it’s not recommended. To do so, follow these steps with a slight change to the previous command.
Create a new file (touch command) and write something into the file using the echo command.
Add the file to the staging area.
Now We will try to execute the command for the commit, but this time there is a slight difference compared to the previous command. Because this time we want to commit without any message. So to do the Git commit execute the below command.
git commit -a –allow-empty-message -m ‘ ‘
If you want to commit your changes in Git without a commit message, you can do it this way. However, it is not recommended.
Committing Changes to Existing Files
Most of the time when you’re using Git, you will be committing changes to existing files rather than creating new ones.
For this, we can use the same git add command which can be used in multiple ways. For this example, we can create a file and commit the file.
After that, we will add some content to that and again we will commit the file.
Committing Multiple Changes in One Go
If your repository has multiple changes and wants to commit all of them, you can use git add to include all current changes into the next commit – no need to add files one by one.
You can also bypass the git add step entirely by using the -a option when committing, which will commit all changes.
You Can add multiple files by using the git add. But this time we tried to commit multiple files in a single commit statement.
Repository with several changed files
git commit -m “Commit message”
The commands above are equivalent to the following one
git commit -a -m “Commit message”
Yet another option
git commit -am “Commit message”
At any time, you can use the git log command to see your commit history.
I Made a Mistake: What Now?
Commits cannot be changed once they have been made, but if you make a mistake there are commands that allow you to appear to change commits. These actually create new commits and abandon the old ones. To keep things simple, I will use phrases such as “change” or “delete” commits, but keep in mind that this is a simplification.
Amending a Commit to Change Its Message
Lets us take an example of a Type error when you are trying to commit.
These are minimal changes so its fix is easy. To change your most recent commit, you can run the git commit –amend command. This will allow you to make any other changes to the repository before committing them.
On executing the git commit –amend command it will open the configured editor and you’ll be able to fix the commit message. After fixing the message you can save the editor and then you can close the editor.
Amending a Commit to Include More Changes
If you forget to include changes in a commit, you can use git commit –amend.
After committing you to realize that there are some other files are there which need to be committed. for this, you need to add the missed file into the stage area.
Then, you simply run git commit –amend again:
You can see that both files are now listed as modified. Just edit the message to your liking, save the file, and close the editor. Git will take care of the rest.
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