You Won’t Believe How Easy it is to Write Great Git Commit Messages

Rehan Pinjari
4 min readApr 17, 2024

Have you ever felt that your commit messages look more like odd scripts than easy conversations? Fear not, my fellow developers, for today we’re going to go deep into the art (yes, art!) of creating professional commit messages.

But, before we discover, let’s back up for a moment.

For those new to the game, think of version control systems (VCS) as time machines for your code.

They keep track of changes, allowing you to easily review previous versions or work with others.

Git, Mercurial, and SVN are all popular options, but Git is the industry standard because of its flexibility and capability.

Git 101: Mastering the Basics

Now, let’s look at the basics of Git.

Think about a repository to be the primary storage location for all versions of your project’s code.

Within this repository, you’ll discover commits, which are snapshots of specific changes at a specific moment in time.

Each commit adds a message suggesting what was changed.

Imagine a commit message as a sticky note on your code that explains what you just worked on.

Branches are temporary forks in the path of your code.

You can create a branch to work on a new feature without impacting the main codebase.

Once you’re satisfied, you can merge your branch back into the main one and make your changes.

Creating Meaningful Commit Messages

This is where the true magic happens! Very clear commit messages are Git’s ultimate goal.

They not only keep you organized, but they also make things easier for the people around you (and future you!).

Here’s the golden rule: stay short and clear.

Aim for a subject line that is under 50 characters long and makes it clear what has changed.

Imagine it as a headline for your code change. For example, instead of “made some changes,” write “implemented login functionality.”

Atomic Habits for Git

Think about each commit as a single, well-defined change. This improves code review while offering for better tracking of changes. Avoid making a lot of separate changes at once.

To guarantee maximum clarity, break them down into smaller, more focused commits.

Clean Code is King

Before pressing the commit button, make sure your code is readable and clear.

Your contributions become even more positive when they follow consistent naming rules, have clear variable names, and are well-formatted.

Remember that your code is a conversation, and clear code speaks loudly.

Commit Often, Commit Early

Regular commits are a good thing. They offer easier communication and troubleshooting.

Do you feel overwhelmed by an important task? Break it into smaller, bite-sized parts.

This makes committing easier and keeps your codebase in sync.

Branching Strategies

Branching strategies help structure your Git workflow and keep your code organized.

Here are some of the popular options

  • Feature branching: Create separate branches for each new feature while keeping the main branch stable.
  • Release branching: Break off specific releases to make way for bug updates and hotfixes without affecting current work.
  • Git flow: A common process that mixes feature and release branching for a more efficient approach.

Dynamic Rebasing

Dynamic rebasing lets you to change your commit history.

This is handy for organizing up messy commit messages or merging similar commits into a single one.

Use it with caution because it rewrites history, but it may be an effective tool for keeping things organized.

Resolving Conflicts

Merging branches may lead to conflicts since the same lines of code have been updated differently.

Don't panic! Understanding the related changes and maintaining good communication with your team is necessary to resolve these issues efficiently.

Most Git tools offer visual assistance and step-by-step instructions to help you handle such situations.

Tools for the Exchange

Several tools and plugins can improve your Git skills.

GitKraken and Sourcetree offer simple interfaces for viewing your Git process.

Visual Studio Code plugins, such as GitLens, offer improved tools for going through your commit history and finding code changes.

The Power of Automation

Git effortlessly works with CI/CD operations.

These pipelines automate testing and deployment, which improves code quality and speeds the release process.

Final Words

Remember: practice makes perfect.

The more you use Git, the more confident you will get about creating short but meaningful commit messages.

So, stay at it, try out alternative branching techniques, and take on the power of version control.

Before you know it, you’ll be a Git expert, creating commits that inspire awe (or at least understanding) in those around you.

If you enjoyed this, consider buying me a coffee! ☕️

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