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Andrew Glover

Custom Git Commands in 3 Steps

I’m lazy and so I seek ways to reduce repetitious activities. For instance, I’ve spent a lot of time in a terminal typing Git commands. A few of the more common commands, I’ve aliased. If I want to see a list of branches, I used to type:

Listing Git branches

$> git branch -v -a

But after adding an alias to my bash profile, I simply type gb. I’ve done this for a few commands like git commit, which is gc and gca for the -a flag.

Occasionally, aliases aren’t enough and when it comes to Git, you can create custom commands that can be referenced like so:

Your custom Git command

$> git my-command

To create a custom command, you first need to create a file named git-my-command; second, you must place the resultant file on your path. Finally, you need to make the file executable. You can write this file in Bash, Ruby, or Python – it doesn’t matter.

For example, I tend to find myself stashing some uncommitted changes and then later popping those stashed changes onto a new branch. I end up executing the following steps:

A simple Git flow

$> git stash
$> git stash branch some_branch

The key step I want to simplify is the last one – I’m lazy and I’d rather not type 4 words. I’d rather type git unstash some_branch because it saves me one word.

Following the three simple steps I mentioned above, I’ll first create a file in my ~/bin directory called git-unstash. The ~/bin directory is in my path because my .bashrc has this line: PATH=$PATH:$HOME/bin.

My git-unstash script will be simple – it takes an argument (the branch name, i.e. $1); therefore, the script does a simple check to ensure the branch name is provided.

Custom Git command: unstash


((!$#)) && echo No branch name, command ignored! && exit 1

git stash branch $1

After I’m done writing it, I’ll do a quick chomd +x and all three steps are accomplished.

Now my new flow is this:

A simple Git flow

$> git stash
$> git unstash some_branch

Custom Git commands are that simple to invent – first, create a file named git-my-command. Next, place it on your path; and, finally, make it executable. Be lazy and carry on, baby!

Reference: Custom Git Commands in 3 Steps from our JCG partner Andrew Glover at the The Disco Blog blog.

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2 Comments on "Custom Git Commands in 3 Steps"

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Mirko Friedenhagen

Hello Andrew,

thanks for your article :-). Another way for aliases is built in in git itself:
After executing:
git config –global –add alias.gb “branch -v -a”
you may use:
git gb
The best thing is that with bash-completion “git ” will show you aliases defined in this way as well, these are my aliases:
git config -l | grep ^alias
alias.log1=log –pretty=format:”%h %ai %an %s”
alias.ls=ls-files –stage
alias.logst=log –stat
alias.pullfo=pull –ff-only
alias.last=log -1 HEAD
alias.fetchap=fetch –all –prune
alias.gb=branch -v -a

Coming from svn st, ci and co were very useful. As I like rebasing local changes better than automatically merging, “git pull –ff-only” or “git pullfo” are used by me quite often as well.

Mirko Friedenhagen

Editor add my tab in lt and gt :-):
… The best thing is that with bash-completion “git TAB” will show you aliases defined in this way as well, …