Using Stacked Pull Requests in GitHub

Using Stacked Pull Requests in GitHub

Learn about stacked pull requests in GitHub, when to use them, and how to convert a monolithic PR into a stacked one.

Learn about stacked pull requests in GitHub, when to use them, and how to convert a monolithic PR into a stacked one.

When working on a team, one of the most inherently difficult and more involved processes is code reviews. To review a large pull request (PR), you need time and context as well as the energy to parse and hold your mental boundaries in focus.

The same cannot be said for small PRs, however, where it’s much easier to consider changes and to suggest changes of our own. So how can we introduce large changes while avoiding cognitively overloading our teammates? This is where stacked pull requests come into play.

In this article, we will cover what stacked pull requests are, when and how to use them, and how to convert a monolithic PR into a stacked one.

What are stacked pull requests?

Stacked PRs, also know as dependent, incremental, or chained PRs, are pull requests that branch off from other pull requests. In git terms, they are feature branches that are checked out from other feature branches to build small and coherent units to represent changes.

When working with stacked PRs, it’s helpful to think of your branches as a similar layer of code-change organization to git commits. You have the choice between pushing all your changes as a single big commit and organizing your code in separate commits. Having multiple commits is the better practice. So, what good is there in doing the same with your branches?

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