Git branching strategy diagram

Release Flow: How We Do Branching on the VSTS Team

We will start our branching strategy from the work item we are working on. This ensures traceability is baked into the rest of the process, and ensure that we are working on producing value technical or functional.

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I am placing all the topics under a folder, and naming the branch using the work item id. This allows anyone looking at the branch separately to easily know which work item it is for. At any time during your development cycle you might have several ongoing topics. These topics should be short lived to avoid complex merge conflicts scenarios. What we would want to do next to have all these topics branches trigger a build whenever any commit is done for them. In VSTS, there is a nice feature that allows a build to be triggered by many branches for instance:.

Adopt a Git branching strategy

Hence with one build definition we can continuously build all the ongoing topics and generate their build artifacts in an organized way:. The topic builds should trigger a release pipeline into environments where the main goal is to validate the work item in isolation from the rest of the ongoing work items.

You should be using as many environments as you deem necessary to validate the code quality, the functionality, the performance, the security and its impact on the overall required infrastructure.

This should be a no issue. You will do that using a pull request. The pull request will show the team responsible for merging the changes into main, what files changed or were added and what work item they are related for. They can comment on your changes, or request additional changes before they approve the merge. Note that in many cases, you are part of that same team.

However, it is very important not to think about this step as a gate but rather collaboration step. Everybody owns the code:. You should have branch policies on your master branch that ensure that pull requests are required for changes to be merged:. Once your pull request is approved, it will trigger a build from the master branch, which itself should trigger a release pipeline allowing your team to integrate your latest work item with others.

You should validate the integration of these functionalities and their impact on the health of the application and its infrastructure before releasing it to production:.Now that you have the basics of branching and merging down, what can or should you do with them?

Because Git uses a simple three-way merge, merging from one branch into another multiple times over a long period is generally easy to do. This means you can have several branches that are always open and that you use for different stages of your development cycle; you can merge regularly from some of them into others.

The stable branches are farther down the line in your commit history, and the bleeding-edge branches are farther up the history. You can keep doing this for several levels of stability. Some larger projects also have a proposed or pu proposed updates branch that has integrated branches that may not be ready to go into the next or master branch. Topic branches, however, are useful in projects of any size. A topic branch is a short-lived branch that you create and use for a single particular feature or related work.

You saw this in the last section with the iss53 and hotfix branches you created. You did a few commits on them and deleted them directly after merging them into your main branch.

Your commit history will look something like this:. You can throw away the original iss91 branch losing commits C5 and C6 and merge in the other two. Your history then looks like this:. We will go into more detail about the various possible workflows for your Git project in Distributed Gitso before you decide which branching scheme your next project will use, be sure to read that chapter. Getting Started 1.

Git Basics 2. Git Branching 3. Git on the Server 4. Distributed Git 5. GitHub 6. Git Tools 7. Customizing Git 8. Git and Other Systems 9. Git Internals Appendix C: Git Commands A3. Long-Running Branches Because Git uses a simple three-way merge, merging from one branch into another multiple times over a long period is generally easy to do.

Topic Branches Topic branches, however, are useful in projects of any size.This model was conceived innow more than 10 years ago, and not very long after Git itself came into being. In those 10 years, git-flow the branching model laid out in this article has become hugely popular in many a software team to the point where people have started treating it like a standard of sorts — but unfortunately also as a dogma or panacea. During those 10 years, Git itself has taken the world by a storm, and the most popular type of software that is being developed with Git is shifting more towards web apps — at least in my filter bubble.

Web apps are typically continuously delivered, not rolled back, and you don't have to support multiple versions of the software running in the wild. This is not the class of software that I had in mind when I wrote the blog post 10 years ago.

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If your team is doing continuous delivery of software, I would suggest to adopt a much simpler workflow like GitHub flow instead of trying to shoehorn git-flow into your team. If, however, you are building software that is explicitly versioned, or if you need to support multiple versions of your software in the wild, then git-flow may still be as good of a fit to your team as it has been to people in the last 10 years. In that case, please read on. To conclude, always remember that panaceas don't exist.

Consider your own context. Don't be hating. Decide for yourself. For a thorough discussion on the pros and cons of Git compared to centralized source code control systems, see the web. There are plenty of flame wars going on there. As a developer, I prefer Git above all other tools around today. Git really changed the way developers think of merging and branching. But with Git, these actions are extremely cheap and simple, and they are considered one of the core parts of your daily workflow, really.

As a consequence of its simplicity and repetitive nature, branching and merging are no longer something to be afraid of. We will refer to this repo as originsince this name is familiar to all Git users. Each developer pulls and pushes to origin. But besides the centralized push-pull relationships, each developer may also pull changes from other peers to form sub teams.

For example, this might be useful to work together with two or more developers on a big new feature, before pushing the work in progress to origin prematurely.

At the core, the development model is greatly inspired by existing models out there. The central repo holds two main branches with an infinite lifetime:. The master branch at origin should be familiar to every Git user. Parallel to the master branch, another branch exists called develop. This is where any automatic nightly builds are built from.

git branching strategy diagram

When the source code in the develop branch reaches a stable point and is ready to be released, all of the changes should be merged back into master somehow and then tagged with a release number.Perforce teams are operating as usual.

Development teams need to move fast. Parallel development allows developers to work on tasks simultaneously as part of a team. And parallel builds and testing ensure developers get the feedback they need quickly. But as projects and teams grow, working in parallel becomes more complex.

Complex products have several teams that need to integrate code. But often integrations between teams are pushed later in the development cycle. Bringing all the code together near the end can cause massive merge conflicts and release delays. But your teams do not have to sacrifice quality for speed. By branching and merging code more frequently, your team can be more productive. This helps you build better products and keeps your codebase stable.

Because team members are able to work on portions of the code without impacting others, they can get more done.

Branching code helps software development teams work in parallel. They can use it to coordinate changes and collaborate on a shared codebase. To start branching, teams need version control.

A succesful Git branching model considered harmful

When a branch is created, the VCS creates a snapshot of the codebase. And as files are modified, teams can merge back changes.

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Branches can be made for features, updating frameworks, creating common components, and managing releases. Branching strategies coordinate work to allow for easier integration of changes and releases. For teams that have hundreds or thousands of developers, branching and merging can be difficult.Distributed version control systems like Git give you flexibility in how you use version control to share and manage code.

Your team should find a balance between this flexibility and the need to collaborate and share code in a consistent manner. Team members publish, share, review, and iterate on code changes through Git branches shared with others. Adopt a branching strategy for your team. You can collaborate better and spend less time managing version control and more time developing code. The following branching strategies are based on the way we use Git here at Microsoft.

Git Branching and Merging with Example

For more information, see How we use Git at Microsoft. A strategy that extends these concepts and avoids contradictions will result in a version control workflow for your team that is consistent and easy to follow.

Develop your features and fix bugs in feature branches based off your master branch. These branches are also known as topic branches. Feature branches isolate work in progress from the completed work in the master branch.

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Git branches are inexpensive to create and maintain. Even small fixes and changes should have their own feature branch. Creating feature branches for all your changes makes reviewing history simple. Look at the commits made in the branch and look at the pull request that merged the branch.

Use a consistent naming convention for your feature branches to identify the work done in the branch. You can also include other information in the branch name, such as who created the branch. For information on setting policies to enforce a branch naming strategy, see Require branch folders. Learn more about using feature flags in your code. The review that takes place in a pull request is critical for improving code quality. Only merge branches through pull requests that pass your review process.

Avoid merging branches to the master branch without a pull request. Reviews in pull requests take time to complete. Your team should agree on what's expected from pull request creators and reviewers. Distribute reviewer responsibilities to share ideas across your team and spread out knowledge of your codebase.

The code in your master branch should pass tests, build cleanly, and always be current. Your master branch needs these qualities so that feature branches created by your team start from a known good version of code.

Set up a branch policy for your master branch that:. The build pipeline for your pull requests should be quick to complete, so it doesn't interfere with the review process.

Use release branches to coordinate and stabilize changes in a release of your code. This branch is long-lived and isn't merged back into the master branch in a pull request, unlike the feature branches.

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Create as many release branches as you need.We've talked a lot about hosting the world's largest Git repositoryabout how we're moving Microsoft to Gitand about the challenges of Git at scale.

We often get asked, "how does Microsoft actually use Git? This will be a whirlwind walkthrough of the standard Git workflow at Microsoft.

There are certainly teams which diverge from these principles in big and small ways based on their needs, but by and large, these are the default practices for most teams. Other articles and videos on this site go into more detail about the team and product makeup. As a refresher, there are around engineers in our organization. We're geographically distributed into 3 main sites Redmond, Raleigh, and Hyderabad plus dozens of remote workers in cities across the world. We ship multiple products from our codebase: Team Foundation Server comes out yearly and has several point updates per year.

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Azure DevOps ships every three weeks, plus a daily hotfix train. In addition, we have several components built from our repository which ship on a different schedule, such as Team Explorer for Visual Studio. Everything we do with our code structure, branch structure, and workflows is to support a large distributed team pumping out complex software.

The majority of our code is in one Git repository hosted by Azure DevOps. That repository contains about 8GB worth of history on a fresh clone.

git branching strategy diagram

We follow a single-trunk model; more on our branch structure later. Code is broken up into components, which each live in their own root-level folder. Really large components, especially some of the older components, may be made up of multiple subcomponents. Those subcomponents get separate sub-folders within the parent component.

We have a few adjunct repositories, as well. Configuration changes on Visual Studio Team Services are checked into a separate repository. A handful of other packages we depend on come from other places, and we consume them via NuGet. It's worth pausing to reflect that this isn't the only way.

git branching strategy diagram

While we've elected to have a single monolithic repository the "mono-repo"other products at Microsoft use a multi-repo approach. Skype, for instance, has hundreds of small repositories that get stitched together in various combinations to create their many different clients, services, and tools. Especially for teams embracing microservices, multi-repo can be the right approach.

git branching strategy diagram

We use a branching strategy that we call " Release Flow ". It's a trunk-based development model, similar to the ones that we recommend to our customers in our branch strategy guide. Release Flow lets us keep master buildable at all times more on that later and work from short-lived topic branches. When we're ready to ship, whether that's a sprint or a major TFS update, we start a new release branch off master.

Release branches never merge back to master, so we require cherry-picking important changes.Update The branching model described here is called trunk based development.

I and other people who I collaborated with did not know about the articles that used this name. Nowadays there are excellent web resources about the subject, like trunkbaseddevelopment. They have a lot of material about this and other key subjects revolving around the area of efficient software development. When people start to use git and get introduced to branches and to the ease of branching, they may do couple of Google searches and very often end up on a blog post about A successful Git branching model.

The biggest issue with this article is that it comes up as one of the first ones in many git branching related searches when it should serve as a warning how not to use branches in software development. To put it bluntly, this type of development approach where you use shared remote branches for everything and merge them back as they are is much more complicated than it should be.

The basic principle in making usable systems is to have sane defaults. This branching model makes that mistake from the very beginning by not using the master branch for something that a developer who clones the repository would expect it to be used, development. Using individual long lived branches for features also make it harder to ensure that everything works together when changes are merged back together. This type of development practice where every feature is developed in its own shared remote branch drives the process naturally towards big integration issues instead of avoiding them.

I will explain next why merge commits are bad and what you will lose by using them. Then if you decide that a feature is not for you, you can just revert that one commit and have the whole feature removed. I would argue that this is a really rare situation that you revert a feature or that you even get it done completely right on the first try. That does not provide any value when you want to see what has actually changed.

You need go to the commit message and read what happens there, probably in the second paragraph. Not to mention going back in history to the branch and trying to see what happens in that branch.

Having non-linear history also makes git bisect harder to do when issues are only revealed during integration. This is not even that hard to encounter when one developer changes some internal interface and other developer builds something new based on the old interface definition.

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These kind of can be easy or hard to figure out, but having the history linear without any merge commits could immediately point out the commit that causes issues. Let me show a much more simple alternative, that we can call the cactus model. It gets the name from the fact that all branches branch out from a wide trunk master branch and never get merged back. Cactus model should reflect much better the way that comes up naturally when working with git and making sure that continuous integration principles are used.

In figure 1 you can see the principle how the cactus branching model works and following sections explain the reasoning behind it. Some principles shown here may need Gerrit or similar integrated code review and repository management system to be fully usable. So why not also have all development also happen there? No need to guess or needlessly document the development branch when it is the default one.

This only applies to the central repository that is cloned and kept up to date by everyone. Individual developers are encouraged to use local branches for development but avoid shared remote branches. This is to make sure that we do not develop on an outdated baseline. Cactus model does not to discourage using branches when they are useful. Local branches are just to make it more easy to move between features while commits are tested or under code review.


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