✏️ Cover art by Michael Rayback on Dribble
Git is an essential and powerful tool for any software developer. As part of your developer workflow, you might find yourself juggling between different projects and features all the time.
Given so, it's very hard to keep track of all the names of the branches between projects, especially when coming back to it after some time. So one common cumbersome procedure is looking up the name of the branch you want to get on that specific project and
git checkout to it.
To achieve so, you first need to get all the branch names of the current project. Fortunately for us,
git has a command for this, for-each-ref. What it does is iterate over all the references, which is a readable name that points to the SHA-1 ids of git artifacts (e.g commits), given a pattern. For example, getting
refs/heads returns a list of all the references of the head commits for each branch.
You can iterate on these references to print all the branches on the terminal by using the following command:
Of course, you can format and sort the results however you like. The next step would be to be able to interact with that list of branches, like selecting one, copying one, searching, and/or filtering the results.
A pretty useful command for that is the well-known
grep, which allows us to find patterns in the results. For example, we could chain the output of the branches command to
grep pattern to search for branches that match the pattern.
I want to only see the branches which are prefixed with
fix because I want to come back to fix that pesky bug? no problem,
git branches | grep fix would do the filtering (pst, adding an alias to the branches command is pretty useful). Then you can copy the branch name and check out to it
... But what if we want to interactively filter the branches and navigate through them, as well as binding keyboard commands to actions? (to, for example, check out to a branch using enter!)... you can easily do that with
Fzf is a
grep on steroids. According to the description, it is a
general-purpose command-line fuzzy finder.
fzf is a general-purpose command-line fuzzy finder.
It's an interactive Unix filter for command-line that can be used with any list; files, command history, processes, hostnames, bookmarks, git commits etc.
- Portable, no dependencies
- Blazingly fast
- The most comprehensive feature set
- Flexible layout
- Batteries included
- Vim/Neovim plugin, key bindings, and fuzzy auto-completion
Table of Contents
- Upgrading fzf
- Building fzf
- Key bindings for command-line
- Fuzzy completion for bash and zsh
- Vim plugin
- Advanced topics
Fzf grabs the output of any command, being it a list, processes, text... and lets you search and filter these results interactively and navigate through them. You can also assign key bindings to commands on your search.
With it, we can search and navigate through any directory easily and look for files, also adding some key bindings e.g opening the file in
vscode when clicking enter and copying the filename path with tab.
The above example uses bat instead of
cat for previewing files, as it includes some nice features like syntax highlighting and also shows modifications on files by integrating with git.
bat supports syntax highlighting for a large number of programming and markup
bat communicates with
git to show modifications with respect to the index
(see left side bar):
Show non-printable characters
You can use the
--show-all option to show and highlight non-printable
bat pipes its own output to a pager (e.g
less) if the output is too large for one screen
If you would rather
bat work like
cat all the time (never page output), you can set
--paging=never as an option, either on the command line or in your configuration file
If you intend to alias
bat in your…
fzf command in place, we can pipe our
git branches command [Fig. 1] to the
fzf part of [Fig. 2] with some tweaking of the key bindings, and that will allow us to filter, copy and check out branches, just like that:
You can then bind the command to some git alias in
~/.gitconfig, I have it assigned to
Fzf includes numerous built-in key bindings as exiting with escape or navigating with scrolling/arrows, to name a couple. Try extending the command by adding more key bindings that fit your workflow!
Here's a short example of the command in action:
That's it! ✨
And you, what other amazing
fzf commands do you use, or would you create to improve your development workflow?