Git rebase and merge: Difference between explained

Git rebase and merge: Difference between explained

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Updated on Feb 22, 2023 10:59 IST

This article explains the differences between Git rebase and merge, two common commands used for integrating changes from different branches in Git. It covers the purpose and benefits of each command, as well as their key differences,The article also provides guidelines for choosing which command to use in different scenarios and concludes with a call to like and share the article.

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Have you ever been in a situation where you have multiple branches, and you need to combine them into one? If yes, then this article is for you. We are about to dive into the Git rebase vs. merge topic and explore the differences between these two commands. Git is a powerful version control and collaboration tool used by developers worldwide. It helps those who work in teams coordinate and work on shared projects. But even if you’re the lone wolf, Git can be invaluable to your workflow.

One of the most common things you’ll do with Git is merge changes from different branches into a single branch. It can be done through merge or rebase commands, each with advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at what both have to offer and when it makes sense to use which command.

Table of contents

What Is Git Rebase?

It’s a special type of command used to move commits from one branch to another. It removes all commits from one branch and replays them on another, allowing you to combine changes from different branches into one unified history.

For example, let’s say you’ve created a feature branch off your main‐line development branch. You’re working on a new feature, and once you’re done, you want to merge all the changes into your main line. This is where Git rebase in handy — it will effectively replay all the commits from your feature branch on top of your main-line development branch in a single commit. This makes the process of merging two branches much faster and easier than using traditional merge techniques.

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What Is Git Merge?

Git merge is combining multiple Git branches into a single branch. This process is used to merge changes from one branch into another, merging the two branches and creating a single, unified branch.

Suppose developers merge two Git branches. It means bringing the history of each branch together in a single repository. This process creates a new branch, combining all of the commits from all source branches. While performing a merge, the developer can specify which commit should be included in the resulting repository.

This process is often called “fast-forwarding” because it takes all commits from one branch that are not present in the other branch and merges them into a single commit history. Using this process, new features or bug fixes can be added to an existing branch without breaking the existing code base.

Git Rebase vs. Merge: Which one to use? 

Whether to use Git Rebase or Merge depends greatly on your situation. Both features have pros and cons, and it’s important to understand them before deciding.

Use Git Merge when:

  1. Combining changes from two or more branches while maintaining individual histories. 
  2. Working with multiple developers on a project and would like to track their contributions.
  3. Unsure about how my changes will affect the final product and would like to keep a backup copy of the original code.

Use Git Rebase when:

  1. Apply changes from one branch to another while maintaining a clean and linear progression. 
  2. Working on a small project with 1 or 2 developers and want to keep history simple. 
  3. Avoid conflicts when merging changes from different branches.

Keypoints: Difference between Git rebase and merge

  1. History: Git merge retains a complete history of both branches, resulting in a branching history that looks like a tree. Git rebase effectively rewrites the history of the branch being rebased, resulting in a simpler, more linear history.
  2. Conflict resolution: Git merge may require manual resolution of conflicts, while Git rebase conflicts can also occur but are generally easier to resolve since the changes are being applied linearly.
  3. Commit structure: Git merge creates a new merge commit that combines the changes from both branches, while Git rebase replaces the original branch with a new set of commits based on the changes in the rebased branch.
  4. Intended use: Git merge is intended for integrating changes from one branch into another while keeping the history of both branches. Git rebase intended for integrating changes from one branch into another while making the history of the base branch more linear and easier to read.

Conclusion

These two terms have always been confusing, and the purpose of using these commands is the same, but still, there are some differences that we have explained in this blog. If you like it, please share it with your friends.

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