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Branches as a Way to Develop Changes

Reading time 5 min
Published Jan 12, 2018
Updated Oct 3, 2019

Chances are you have heard the term "branching" before. Why? Because it is a widespread feature among version control systems (VSC). Git branch is vital in development because it allows you to create a number of different development lines at the same time.

Imagine, if several developers are working on the same source code, they probably are not responsible for the same tasks. Each of them is devoted to solving a certain issue. By using the Git branch, they can isolate themselves from each other and work on their own field of focus or develop different versions of the code. When they work on distributed development, such as, for example, Git branch, later they can merge different versions. The only condition is that Git branch must belong to the same repository.

Git branch is quite significant among other version control systems. First of all, unlike many other version control systems out there, it actually encourages developers to use the Git merge branch. It is definitely worth learning how to master it because Git branch and Git merge are the features that are exceptionally fast and created for multiple renewals.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to take advantage of Git branch, and its features, not only such as Git merge branch, but Git create branch and Git switch branch as well. Keep reading the tutorial below!

Git Branch: Main Tips

  • Git branches are movable pointers of commits that have been done by that time.
  • Branching is a process when developers create separate branches from the same code but remain in the same repository.
  • Essentially, it is an independent development line.

Local Access and Git Compression Techniques

A branch is a term used to describe a unit in which Git stores data about changes made throughout the development or a representation of pointers to snapshots of changes.

That is because Git doesn't store changes as a list of file-based changes; instead, it considers data to be a set of snapshots of a particular files system. As a result, each time you save changes of a project in Git, it immediately takes a picture of what all the files look like.

Normally, one might think that the local repository of a project would take a lot of space of the machine because of Git saving files locally. However, Git provides an effective solution to this issue. Git uses certain compression techniques so that the files are stored on your local disk occupying less space than they would normally. After a snapshot is taken, a reference point is saved, so only the information about the changes is stored. Meanwhile, no action is taken towards the files that have already been stored but haven't experienced any changes so far.

For most operations, Git uses locally stored resources and saves files locally. This allows you to work and save changes offline as well (locally). The whole history of a project is accessible in the local database, and every new change can be saved at a local disk.

Git create branch is a simple command, similar to many other Git commands:

git branch mybranch01

It is also important to note that there are different types of branches - local and remote branches. You will learn how to work with them through code later.

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Moving Around the Branches

Normally, after some time of working with Git, you will have more than one or two branches. It becomes important then not to get lost among them. There is a useful command for that, Git switch branch. Just like the name says, it will allow you to move from one branch to another.

For Git switch branch, use this code line by including the name of your Git branch:

git checkout <branch name>

You can go back to the main branch by typing git checkout master. Master is your main project branch. At any moment, after you have made a few branches you can check where you are by using git status command.

$ git status
On branch mybranch01

You might want to use git branch to view all the branches you have created by now:

$ git branch
* mybranch01

Creating Multiple Branches in Non-Linear Development

Branching is an integral part of the Git workflow. One of the reasons why Git stands out from other source code managers (SCM) is its supported non-linear code development. This type of development is supported by branching.

The master branch is the main Git branch. When something is changed, new branches are immediately created, despite the extent of the change. All the branches are indispensable to each other. Such structure protects the work that is being done in the master branch.

Before the progress is merged or stored, everything is check-summed by using SHA-1 Hash mechanism. It ensures that all the changes will be detected by Git, even if the information is lost or damaged during the transit.

All in all, Git branch and its development process is a fast and effortless content moving and switching way. It allows developers to experiment with the code base and use Git merge to integrate the desired changes.

Git Branch: Summary

  • Git branch system tracks the changes that have been done simultaneously.
  • It allows to create changes independent from the main line.
  • Branching allows to experiment with the code and remain in control of it at the same time.