Beyond the Basics: 5 Powerful Advanced Tools in Git

Beyond the Basics: 5 Powerful Advanced Tools in Git

In this post, I’ll give you a brief introduction to five advanced Git features. We can’t go into epic detail with all these features but I’ll point you to some in-depth learning material for each topic if you want to know more.

Commit, push, pull… Every developer knows the basic vocabulary of version control with Git these days. But beyond those basics, there’s a whole world of other, more advanced features in Git. And it’s exactly these features that can dramatically improve how you build software! These tools can help you…

  • Undo mistakes
  • Find bugs quickly
  • Clean up your commit history
  • Integrate third-party code in a well-structured way
  • …and much more!

In this post, I’ll give you a brief introduction to five advanced Git features. We can’t go into epic detail with all these features but I’ll point you to some in-depth learning material for each topic if you want to know more.

But now: let’s go!

Using the Reflog to Undo Mistakes

The “Reflog”, although tremendously helpful, is a rather little-known feature in Git. In short, you can think of the Reflog as Git’s “diary”; Git uses it to protocol all of the HEAD pointer movements that happen in your local repository. This means that every time you commit, rebase, merge, reset, or cherry-pick, Git will take note of this in this special journal. Such a protocol of your most important actions is, of course, a perfect safety net for when you made a mistake!

Let’s look at a simple example: you’re not happy with your last few commits and want to get rid of them. You perform a “reset”, rolling back your commit history a couple of commits — and thereby removing those unwanted commits. Let’s also say that, a couple of minutes later, you realize that you shouldn’t have done this and now desperately want those commits back! 😱

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This is where the Reflog comes in handy! Take a look at the following little video, which shows both our mistake (performing a “reset”) and using the Reflog to undo this mistake:

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