Month: April 2017

How to use Visual Studio as your external merge tool – 106

Hmm, I wonder what could possibly be my tip for the day after yesterday’s tip!

In yesterday’s scenario, you saw how to use VS to do a diff. In today’s tip, you’ll see how to do a merge when you do `git merge branch-name` and get into a merge conflict. Hopefully you’re feeling a bit more confident when you see merge conflict now. (Yeah that’s actually my hope for myself.)

First, go to Team Explorer – Settings – Git – Global Settings and for Merge tool, click Use Visual Studio

Merge Tool: Use Visual Studio

Suppose you have a file in one branch (mine is called readme) that contains a conflict. When you go to merge into master, you’ll see a merge conflict.

You can open the mergetool by running

$ git mergetool

git mergetool prompting to open in VS

Follow the instructions and hit Enter.

Now the VS Merge tool appears

VS merge tool

Clean up your readme.txt in the bottom part of the screen (or however you want to use the merge tool).

Now we’ll see that we have changes in our working directory.

need to do git add to stage changes from merge

You can do a `git add readme.txt` to add this file to staging.

file added to staging

And now we commit our merge commit via `git commit -m “merged readme”`

committing our merge commit

and the `git log` confirms our merge.

How to use Visual Studio as your external Git difftool – 105

Thanks again to Ed Thomson’s Git for Visual Studio O’Reilly course! I searched for a solid hour how to manually configure VS as your external diff and merge tool. I knew I had seen it somewhere. Then I remembered Ed’s course!

Go to Team Explorer – Settings – Git – Global Settings. Then for either difftool or mergetool or both click Use Visual Studio

Diff Tool: Use Visual Studio

Suppose you have at least one commit and you’ve started making changes to that file in your working directory.

Now you can do

git difftool

which will bring up a prompt asking you to confirm launching your external diff tool vsdiffmerge (the tool VS uses).

Press ‘Y’

git difftool prompt

And now VS will launch and open with the diff tool showing the original Source (i.e. the file in the last commit) vs the changed file Target (the one you changed in the working directory)

I wish I was a messenger and all the news was good - diff in VS

BTW the reason why the tab is shown on the right side of the file tab channel in VS instead of the left is because this is a temporary file that isn’t listed Solution Explorer. Back in the day, you’d have to add this to the miscellaneous project, but not sure how that all works today. But I digress….  🙂

So let’s see what the Use Visual Studio link did by using these two commands

$ git config diff.tool

$ git config difftool.vsdiffmerge.cmd

git config diff.tool and git config difftool.vsdiffmerge.cmd

And the `difftool.vsdiffmerge.cmd` line is the magic line I was hunting the Internet for. Thanks Ed’s course!

How to configure an external diff and merge tool in Git – 104

One of my favorite Nintendo NES games was Dragon Warrior. It made you finish the game. At level 30, you couldn’t gain any more experience points. The mentor wizard person (because there’s always a mentor wizard person) would tell you, “Aren’t you strong enough to defeat the DragonLord?”

As I debated whether I knew enough to write a tip about configuring your git diff and merge tools, I ask myself “Aren’t you strong enough to defeat the git diff merge config tool?!”

More about the game at bottom of post…

For today’s tip, I’m using the git-scm instructions and this translation for Windows

Let’s start by engaging in epic battle with the git-scm instructions. I’m going to assume you’ve installed p4merge. Yes I know there are others, but for now, I’m going to follow these instructions. The journey to 3rd degree black belt starts with a single punch.

These are the two lines I get stuck on:

$ git config --global merge.tool extMerge
$ git config --global mergetool.extMerge.cmd \
  'extMerge "$BASE" "$LOCAL" "$REMOTE" "$MERGED"'

so why need two lines? Perhaps I’m not recalling enough of my shell programming or the translation fails over to Windows? The instructions say

Set up a merge wrapper script named extMerge that calls your binary with all the arguments provided

so `extMerge` is a variable. But why can’t you have it all on the same line?? What am I missing?

and also, what is “mergetool”? is it yet another variable? and how does it differ from merge.tool?


I’ll assume you have p4merge installed here in C:\Program Files\Perforce

Thanks to these for Windows we can setup p4merge as our merge and diff tools using Git Shell (I’m using Git Bash)

$ git config –global diff.tool p4merge
$ git config –global difftool.p4merge.path ‘C:\Program Files\Perforce\p4merge.exe’

$ git config –global merge.tool p4merge
$ git config –global mergetool.p4merge.path ‘C:\Program Files\Perforce\p4merge.exe’

Now let’s create a merge conflict, but this time, I’m going to keep my heart rate low when the (master|MERGING) appears! Btw I called my branch `conflicting` just because.

merge conflict state

now you can type in git mergetool

git mergetool showing p4merge

I’m not going to go over p4merge, but I think the “error” showing for the base file is because p4merge is trying to do a 3-way merge, but only has 2 files. Don’t quote me on this.

After modifying the resulting myfile1.text and hitting save in p4merge and closing it, we’re back to the merge conflict state. This used to freak me out because git didn’t “move on”. But now I know what to do!

You can do a `git status` to verify where you are at.

git status showing myfile1.txt as staged to be committed

Perfect! We’re done with myfile1.txt and it is staged. Since it is staged, we can simply commit it via `git commit -m “my merge message”`

committing the merge shows in the log

And boom! I’ve now done epic battle with one of my most feared Git foes.

The most memorable aspect of the game was the ending… but not for the reasons you’d think. The game had their basic “hero” ending, but it also offered a twist. Before going into battle with the Dragonlord, he’d ask you to join him in being evil and taking over the universe. If you said yes, the game would “freeze” and IIRC, it would erase your saved game! I’ve never heard of another game doing this. There’s the “did you give a dog a sandwich?” story, but not a “come join the dark side” option destroying your saved game!

How to manually commit your own merge commit – 103

Following from yesterday’s tip, suppose you have a branch that you plan to merge, but before the merge is committed, you want to verify things. Perhaps you want to hit F5 or perform some other testing. In other words, you are telling git, “Do the merge, but allow me to hit the commit button.”

I guess this is an inverse of “sudo make me a sandwich” which would be “hey sudo, about that sandwich, if you take all the stuff out of the refrigerator, I’ll finish making it myself.”

git merge –no-ff –no-commit branch-name

Note: I’m using the –no-ff option because I don’t have an actual merge conflict in my branch, so I need to tell git not to do a fast-forward.

git status showing all conflicts fixed but you are still merging

If you do a `git status` you’ll see that all conflicts fixed, but you’re still merging, just as the scary (master|MERGING) tells you.

Notice how the next line tells you to do a `git commit`and the Changes to be committed looks like a good old staging message.

From here, we just need to do a `git commit` (which would open your `git config core.editor` – mine is set to notepad. baby steps)

Or you could skip the editor (in case the scary Vi appears) and do

git commit -m “my merge message”

git commit -m "merged mybranch4" then a git log

And doing a `git log` shows the initial readme being added, then the commit from the mybranch4, then the merge commit!

How to practice not freaking out when you see (master|MERGING) by using git merge –abort – 102

I feel that a lot of Git tutorials forget what that raw, primal panic feels like when you see your branch name change to (master|MERGING). For me personally, 80% of the panic comes from not knowing “how do I get out of this state?! How can we pretend this never happened??”

Today’s tip is about how to get into and out of a merge conflict state, without creating any actual conflicts! I say no conflicts because the easier the setup, the easier it will be to practice, and eventually you’ll build up enough muscle memory to stay calm in future situations.

I have a branch called mybranch3 that simply contains a new file (e.g. touch myfile.txt). If I did just a `git merge –no-commit mybranch3` git would apply a fast-forward, so you have to add the –no-ff. I guess the fast-forward check take precedence in the git world. 

The –no-commit tells Git not to automatically do a merge commit, but rather, let you manually do the merge commit, as we’ll see in tomorrow’s tip.

git merge --no-ff --no-commit mybranch3

You could do a `git status` to figure out how to finish the merge (e.g. `git commit -m “merging mybranch3″`), but today’s tip is about practicing, “I’m taking my ball and going home.” You show Git who’s boss!

You’ll want to run the command `git merge –abort`

git merge --abort

and as you see from the `git log –oneline`, nothing was merged in from mybranch3. (the readme commit was my initial commit. I guess saying initial commit would have made more sense.)

P.S. this was my original vision for this series: take each option of each git command, play with it, try to break it, and blog about it. And it’s still my vision! But got to get through some of the more conceptual stuff first. I also want to get to the internal plumbing of trees, blobs, etc. Maybe in December 😉

How to know that a merge creates a git commit whereas a fast-forward does not – 101

I’m using several resources to teach myself Git: Ed’s Git for Visual Studio O’Reilly course, the Pro Git book, this particular Git Visualization tool, and the Git for Humans book. (If I’m missing a good intermediate resource, lmk!) As I study a concept in one course, I’ll go back and re-read that section in another book or course to see if there are any surprises that I didn’t catch the first time.

As I started re-reading the section on merging in Git for Humans, it hit me that I had missed one important difference between a git merge and a fast-forward – the merge commit!

I’ll use the Git Visualization tool to demo:

When you do a fast-forward merge, the commits from the feature branch (source branch?) are simply added to the master branch (target branch?), as soon in Tip 92 – how to do a fast forward merge 

git visualization tool showing how a fast forward does NOT introduce new commit ID

However, if we’re doing a real merge (e.g. there are conflicts that have to be resolved or you pass in the –no-ff option as we’ll have to do with this visualization tool), you’ll see that a new commit, called a merge commit, is added.

doing a real merge creates a merge commit

I guess Farris had it right (source)

I saw that movie when I was in elementary school. I promised myself when I got into high school I would take a day off and do all the things in that movie. The float scene was possible because of growing up in New Orleans, but the baseball part would have been challenging. I think the closest I’ve ever come to doing something like Farris Bueller was driving to Nintendo HQ (right by the gym I used to go to in Redmond), jumping out of the car, and screaming, “YES I MADE IT!” in homage to all those times as a little kid I entered to win a trip to Nintendo HQ via all those Nintendo Power magazines.

How to fix the oh no! I committed on master from within Visual Studio – 100

Previously, I’ve blogged about how to get uncommitted changes off of master onto a new branch and I’ve blogged about how to get committed changes off of master onto a new branch from command line. Today’s tip fixes the oh no! I’ve been committing on master this entire time from within Team Explorer, thanks to blog reader Luke Kolodziej

Let’s say you’re motoring along and you realize that you’ve been checking into master (or some other wrong branch) this entire time.

history of master branch showing oops! commits

Don’t delete your .git folder! There’s a better way!

First, create a branch but do not check it out!

Go to Team Explorer – Branches, then Right Click on master and select New Local Branch From. Now in the TE window, give your new branch a name, but uncheck the checkout branch.

Checkout branch unchecked

Click Create Branch.

Now you’ll go back to your History – Master tab and do a Reset – Delete Changes (–hard) on 2nd to last commit. We’re defaulting to –hard because we have no uncommitted changes in working directory or in staging.

Reset - Delete Changes in master on previous commit

Now hit Refresh on the History – Master tab and you’ll see that your commits are no longer on master.

I need to be on my own branch commit gone from master

But where did this commit go?

Remember the visualization from the previous tips. Just because we rolled back the HEAD pointer doesn’t mean the commit is lost. Remember git reflog holds the truth!

Okay, now if you switch to the newline branch (e.g. using the status bar button at the bottom right), and going to View History (either from Branches – Actions – View History or from Status bar – branches list – View History)

I need to be on my own branch still on newline

I still to this day feel freaked out that this works. One day I’ll be able to conceptualize master, HEAD, branches, etc as pointers versus the other way around (i.e. commits suddenly disappearing if they don’t show up in the git history). One day.