As a freelance WordPress developer/consultant I rarely work in a team environment. So my usage of Git is mostly for my own purposes of being able to have my code backed up somewhere and the ability to create branches to try out new pieces of functionality without affecting the ‘master’ code base.
Recently I was chatting to Simon Dowdles, another Cape Town based WordPress developer, about this. He is, in his own words, very strict about a Git workflow. We agreed that it would be a good idea to implement a better system, so we put his workflow into place.
- Development branch is where all UP TO DATE and approved code lives
- Master branch is the truth and is ALWAYS what is on production
- Feature/hotfix branches are branched off of develop and only come back into develop with a Pull Request
- Release branches are made off of develop for releases, the release is done, merged back into master and tagged with the appropriate version tag (ie 1.2.0)
- Release branch is deleted, and there is only ever one
On the surface this all seems very obvious but it is often something that one tends to dismiss when working alone on the code base. After working with it for a few days however I can already see the benefits.
Lets first look at a real work example of how this would work in practice.
Firstly the repository is going to need a develop branch. So inside the root of my project folder I’ll create the develop branch from the master branch.
git checkout -b develop
And then push the branch
git push -u origin develop
If the develop branch already exists I can just switch to it
git checkout develop
Now I will need to create my feature branch, to make my code changes. So while still on the develop branch, create a a feature branch
git checkout -b feature/my-cool-feature
I can now starting coding my changes, committing frequently. I tend to commit every time I complete a chunk of functionality. So if I fix a bug, I commit. If I add a function and its more or less complete I commit.
git commit -a
At the end of every day, or if I am going to leave my workstation for a period of time, I push all current commits to the feature branch.
git push -u origin feature/my-cool-feature
When I am convinced it is good to go, I will submit a pull request or PR. When I create my PR I will request that it is merged into the develop branch, NOT master.
As we are using GitHub for this project I prefer to use the web based tools to create a PR, but most of the other cloud based Git services provide similar tools.
The rest of the team will review this PR, which will involve testing. They will scrutinise my code and provide feedback and I will fix or alter things to suit the team/project coding style(s).
Each time I commit the above changes, the team in the PR is notified and will see the changes in the PR.
When everyone is happy, they approve the PR and I merge my PR into the develop branch. At the same time I can choose to delete my feature branch (which I typically do)
The develop branch now has more (stable) code in it, and part of my PR should have been a version bump. (for example let’s say to 1.0.1)
The team decides it is time to release version 1.0.1
First I need to make sure all my code is up to date
And then make sure I am in the develop branch. This is the branch that has all the approved code for the next release (1.0.1).
git checkout develop
I create a release branch called release/1.0.1 off of develop
git checkout -b release/1.0.1
The code gets deployed ( in this case its a WordPress plugin, so it means pushing all the code to the wordpress.org plugin repository, more on that another day 😉 )
I then merge the release/1.0.1 branch back into the master branch and tag it as release 1.0.1, again using all the GitHub PR, merging and tagging tools.
And we’re done, release 1.0.1 is in the wild and by following this approach, master is ALWAYS the truth. If for example release 1.0.2 were to fail, we simply roll everything back to master.
I’ve been working like this for three releases of the project so far and I have to say, once I had all the steps in my head, it did make developing, merging and releasing a lot smoother and more controlled.
Are you using Git as part of a team? If so I’d love to hear your comments on the idea of having a Git Workflow/Strategy.