How to fix the "I’ve started making changes on master. How do I get those to another branch?" using Visual Studio – 090

For 20 years, Visual Studio users have started their workday by launching VS and start coding. Now we have to break that “muscle memory” by stopping to think, “Hmm which branch am I on? Do I need to switch branches first?”

You are allowed to switch to a branch, provided that branch doesn’t already have different changes to the same file. You’ll see the happy case, then the #sadtrombone case.

Help wanted:  This tip is only for saved changes, *not* committed changes. I don’t know how to undo the “oh shit! I’ve committed on master!” *from within Visual Studio* without dropping to the command line. If someone knows, please share in the comments or on twitter! aka please get my attention – references to Samurai Jack seem to work very well 🙂

Happy Case

Suppose you have a Console Application and you need to add a new file called IDoNothing.cs – yep, how I roll.

IDoNothing.cs being added in Changes window

Note that I haven’t committed anything else. These files are only saved.

Team Explorer will still allow you to switch branches. Go to Team Explorer – Branches, and switch to the desired branch.

donothing branch switched to

Then you can commit your IDoNothing.cs file into the donothing branch.

#sadtrombone case

From a previous tip, we’ve made changes to the output in our decorations branch. So let’s switch back to master and make some changes to Program.cs, e.g. adding a new method call.

DoingNothing() method added to Program.cs

We’ve saved the changes, but haven’t committed them. Now when we try to switch to decorations branch we get an error message.

error message: cannot switch becaues uncommitted changes

Yes, that reminds me of the old joke about the helicopter that’s lost over Microsoft HQ. When they the folks on the ground where they are at, they hear, “You’re in a helicopter.” The pilot says, “Thank you!” and plots a new course. The passenger says, “WTF? How do you know what to do after that answer?” He said, “it’s clearly MSFT. You ask a question and get the most technically accurate, but yet not really useful for the given situation answer back.”

Yes, true, you cannot switch because of uncommitted changes, but why is this different than before? Because decorations branch already has a different Program.cs file than what’s in our current branch (master).  In the happy case, by adding a new file, I knew there would be no conflict (and given it’s a Console Application, i don’t have many options for a demo 🙂 But when modifying Program.cs, there’s a conflict, so VS says to see Output Window for details:

> Cannot complete the operation because of existing changes to the following file:
    ConsoleApp1/Program.cs

Now that’s a useful answer! 🙂

4 thoughts on “How to fix the "I’ve started making changes on master. How do I get those to another branch?" using Visual Studio – 090

  1. For accidentally committed on master:
    1) TE Branches: create a new branch from master without checking it out.
    2) TE Branches: Actions -> View History…
    3) History Window: Right click on the previous commit and choose Reset -> Delete Changes (–hard)
    4) TE Branches: checkout the new branch

    Like

  2. You ROCK!! Thank you!! I should also warn folks people to make sure you’re viewing the history of the new branch (not master) to see the commit in the right place; otherwise, you’ll be scratching your head trying to figure out why this didn’t work.

    Like

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