10 GitHub Branching Strategy Best Practices

If you're looking for the best way to manage your branches on GitHub, look no further. We've compiled the 10 best practices for you.

In this article, we will discuss the 10 best practices for using branches in GitHub. We will also provide a brief overview of what branches are and why they are important.

GitHub branches are used to create separate lines of development. This allows developers to work on different features or bug fixes simultaneously without affecting the main codebase.

Branches also make it easier to collaborate with other developers on a project. Each developer can work on their own branch and then merge their changes into the main branch when they are ready.

1. Use a single branch for all development

When you have multiple branches, it’s easy to lose track of which changes are in which branch. This can lead to merge conflicts and other problems. By keeping all of your development in a single branch, you can avoid these issues.

Plus, using a single branch makes it easier to keep your codebase clean and organized. You can use tags and releases to mark specific versions of your code, so you always know which version is which. And, if you need to roll back to a previous version, it’s easy to do with a single branch.

2. Create feature branches from the main branch

The main branch is typically used for two purposes: to track the latest production-ready code, and to serve as the default branch when creating new repositories. As such, it’s important to keep the main branch clean, which means only merging in well-tested and reviewed code.

Creating feature branches from the main branch ensures that any new code is properly isolated and won’t impact the stability of the main branch. This also allows developers to work on multiple features simultaneously without having to worry about merge conflicts.

3. Merge your feature branch back into the main branch when you’re ready to deploy

When you’re ready to deploy your code, you want to make sure that your main branch always contains the latest and greatest code. The last thing you want is to have an outdated main branch that doesn’t reflect the current state of your codebase.

By merging your feature branch back into the main branch, you can ensure that your main branch always contains the latest code. This will make it much easier to keep track of your codebase and make sure that everyone is working off of the same codebase.

4. Delete your feature branch after it’s merged

When you’re done with a feature branch and it’s been merged into the main development branch, there’s no reason to keep the branch around. It just takes up space and can clutter up your repository.

Plus, if someone accidentally tries to merge the wrong branch into the main development branch, it can cause problems. So, it’s best to just delete the branch after it’s been merged.

5. Keep your commits small and focused

When you make a commit, you’re essentially taking a snapshot of your code at that moment in time. If you have a lot of changes in one commit, it can be difficult to track down which change introduced a bug or caused other problems.

By keeping your commits small and focused, you can more easily bisect your code to find the source of a problem. This is especially important when you’re working on a team and need to quickly identify which change caused an issue.

It’s also worth noting that small, focused commits are easier for others to review. When you’re working on a team, it’s important to have well-reviewed code so that everyone is on the same page and knows what changes are being made to the codebase.

6. Write descriptive commit messages

When you’re working on a project with other people, it’s important to be able to look back at the commit history and understand what was changed and why. If your commit messages are vague or non-descriptive, it makes it much harder for other people (and even yourself) to understand what was changed and why.

That’s why it’s important to take the time to write descriptive commit messages that explain not only what was changed, but also why those changes were made. This will make it much easier for everyone involved in the project to understand the codebase and collaborate effectively.

7. Make sure your code works before committing

If you commit code that doesn’t work, it can cause problems for other people working on the same project. If someone tries to merge your branch with their own, and your code doesn’t work, it can break their code. This is why it’s important to always test your code before committing.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your code is up to date before committing. If you’re working on a branch that’s behind the master branch, and you commit your code, your code will be out of date. This can cause problems when someone tries to merge your branch with the master branch.

Always make sure your code works and is up to date before committing.

8. Don’t merge broken code

If you have a team of developers working on the same codebase, it’s important to make sure that everyone is always working with the latest version of the code. Otherwise, you run the risk of having merge conflicts when two people try to push their changes to the same file.

To avoid this, make sure that you never merge broken code into your main branch. If someone tries to push a change that breaks the build, reject their pull request and ask them to fix the issue before resubmitting. This way, you can avoid having to deal with merge conflicts and keep your codebase clean.

9. Avoid unnecessary merges

Each time you merge, you’re creating a new commit. This might not seem like a big deal, but if you have a lot of unnecessary merges, your commit history will become cluttered and difficult to read. It will also be harder to find specific commits when you need to revert back to a previous version or cherry-pick a commit from another branch.

Therefore, it’s important to only merge when absolutely necessary. For example, if you’re working on a feature branch and you need to update your code with the latest changes from the master branch, you should first rebase your branch instead of merging. Rebasing is a way of applying your commits on top of the latest commits from the master branch, which will result in a cleaner commit history.

10. Rebase instead of merging

When you merge, you’re essentially taking two different branches and combining them into one. This can lead to a lot of conflicts and can make it difficult to track down where those conflicts originated from.

Rebasing, on the other hand, takes the commits from one branch and applies them on top of another branch. This is a much cleaner way to integrate changes from one branch to another, and it’s also much easier to track down any potential conflicts.


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