100 reasons to use git: Better commit/log messages

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I have more to write about using git; but here’s one small thing I’ve noticed using git:

You get better commit messages.

There’s no difference in the interface to writing the commit messages, but they just tend to be more useful when using git (rather than subversion).

A subtle difference is that many of the git tools only shows the first line of the commit message. You’d think that’d be worse, but it actually works out to be better because it encourages you to truly summarize the change in a way that’s useful for quick browsing. “Alright, you only have ~60 characters — what really changed?”

Git also encourages you to review and allows you to edit the commit message before you share it with others.

With subversion browsing the history is at best clunky and a bit slow. With git it is super fast, and the tools are awesome (on OS X I recommend GitX). Other than being super fast a big difference is that the client side tools lets you see the actual diff instantaneously, so browsing a long list of patches is easy.

All these things adds up to the commit history being genuinely useful in your day-to-day development work. With subversion I’d browse the log to make a change history and occasionally to assist tracking down a bug. With git I use the commit log ALL DAY. In turn this encourages you to write better commit messages, because more likely than not you are going to read them again.

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This page contains a single entry by Ask Bjørn Hansen published on March 18, 2009 4:51 PM.

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