Enhanced Git Flow Explained - For example, if there’s a critical bug in production that needs to be fixed immediately. And deploying code without proper testing—whether the code is considered half-baked or well-defined—is clearly not an option. Inadvertently causing damage with Git can be all too easy. Yet, the best way to use Git will always be controversial. Let's keep the pros of Git flow, but simplify everyday ops!
Inadvertently causing damage with Git can be all too easy. Yet, the best way to use Git will always be controversial.
That’s because Git itself only details basic branching operations, which leaves its usage patterns—i.e., branching models—a matter of user opinion. Git branching models promise to ease the pain by organizing the chaos that inevitably arises as software developers make changes to their codebases.
Like many developers, you wanted something that would “just work” so you could get on with actual software development. So you picked up Git flow, a branching model often recommended to Git users. Maybe you were on board with Git flow’s logic at first, until you hit some snags with it in practice. Or maybe Git flow doesn’t seem like a good enough fit for you to adopt it. After all, there are countless variables at play, and no single branching model will work well in every situation.
Good news! A variation of the classic Git flow model, enhanced Git flow simplifies the more common maneuvers of the Git flow workflow while still retaining the main advantages.
I’ve been a strong advocate of Git flow ever since I discovered how it excels when developing a product that evolves in significant value increments (in other words, releases).
A significant value increment requires a significant amount of time to complete, like the two-week-plus sprints typically used in Scrum-based development. If a development team has already deployed to production, there may be trouble if the scope of the next release accumulates at the same place where production code lives—e.g., in the main branch of the Git repo they use.
While the product is still in the initial development phase—i.e., there’s no production and there are no real users of the product—it’s okay for the team to simply keep everything inside the main branch. In fact, it’s more than okay: This strategy allows the fastest pace of development without much ceremony. But things change in a production environment; then, real people start to rely on the product to be stable.
For example, if there’s a critical bug in production that needs to be fixed immediately, it would be a major disaster for the development team to have to roll back all the work accrued in the main branch thus far just to deploy the fix. And deploying code without proper testing—whether the code is considered half-baked or well-developed—is clearly not an option.
That’s where branching models shine, including Git flow. Any sophisticated branching model should answer questions regarding how to isolate the next release from the version of the system currently used by people, how to update that version with the next release, and how to introduce hotfixes of any critical bugs to the current version.
The Git flow process addresses these fundamental scenarios by separating “main” (the production or “current version” branch) and “develop” (the development or “next release” branch) and providing all the rules about using feature/release/hotfix branches. It effectively solves a lot of headaches from the development workflows of release-based products.
But even with projects well-suited to the classic Git flow model, I’ve suffered the typical problems it can bring:
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