Saturday, April 17, 2010

GitHub Redemption

Moments after posting that last blog post about full directory compare of a git branch, I found out GitHub supports this already!

My post didn't explicitly call out GitHub, because I really think of this mostly as a local working tree issue for me. But, as I went to tweet about it, I realized I would probably be happy enough if GitHub supported something like this, so I called them out in the tweet...and they answered!

Many thanks to Tom Preston-Werner (@mojombo) for correcting me, and pointing out probably the one link on GitHub I have never clicked: The "Branch List" sub-tab:

I guess I just assumed that it was going to be just a list of all the branches. You know, like `git branch -a`. So I never clicked on it. Stupid. It turns out it's quite useful.

The stats are pretty cool, but the "Compare" button is what I've been looking for. Clicking that takes you to a page that shows the full directory diff between the head of the branch relative to the "base branch", which in this case is "master". Better yet, it gives you three optio
ns on how to view this diff:

You can see the diffs as a series of commits, the overall file changes (the one I was pining for), or the set of commit comments. This is great. Other than the fact that it doesn't cover
un-pushed commits and uncommitted changes in my local clone, and the fact that I really prefer side-by-side diff format ala SmartGit or Trac (but that's a story for another day), this is pretty much exactly what I wanted -- and if I had known about this 8 hours ago, I probably wouldn't have built the stuff I did.

But it gets even better. These buttons that show the two branches being compared is clickable.
Clicking one of these buttons bring up a modal that allows you to specify a specific commit. This lets you do a full tree diff between any two commits. Awesome!

In the end, I still think my solution is useful for the case where you want to deal with branches/commits that have not been pushed to GitHub, or you are working in a repository that is not on GitHub. (But who in their right mind does that, right?)

But, as soon as SmartGit covers this territory, I see no need for my solution...unless you don't use SmartGit (even though you should).

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