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Hichem Fantar
Hichem Fantar

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Git Rebase vs. Merge Secrets

Diagram to show difference between rebase and merge

Image from Git MERGE vs REBASE by ByteByteGo

In a nutshell, when in doubt, opt for merge.

In brief, the distinctions between rebase and merge boil down to the resulting tree structure, the creation of an extra commit, and conflict resolution methods. The choice between rebase and merge depends on the desired project history.

In-depth Explanation: Several factors should guide your choice between rebase and merge.

Shared Branches: If changes come from a branch shared with external developers, avoid rebase to prevent disruptions in their repositories. Stick to merge to maintain consistency.
Team Skill Level: Rebase is a destructive operation, requiring precision to avoid losing committed work or disrupting other developers’ repositories. Less experienced teams might find merge safer.
Branch Information: Consider whether the branch itself holds valuable information. For feature-based models, where each branch represents a feature, rebase might not be suitable, as it destroys the branch’s identity.
Reverting Possibility: If there’s a chance you might need to revert a merge, choose merge over rebase, as reverting a rebase is more challenging.
Team Coordination: Rebase operations, especially in teams, require coordinated use of git pull --rebase. For solo work, the choice is more flexible.

Common Myths:

Merge History Destruction: Contrary to the belief that merge destroys history, commits from merged branches are still accessible. The option --first-parent can be used to view only the mainline history.
Merge doesn’t destroy history; commit messages are still accessible.

Rebase for Safer Merges: The safety and simplicity of merges depend on the developer workflow, and it’s not conclusive that rebase is always better. Regular commits might complicate rebases, especially if changes are still in progress.
Rebase doesn’t guarantee safer or simpler merges; the choice depends on the workflow

Rebase’s Cool Factor: While some may find rebase more appealing, its choice should be based on practical considerations rather than perceived coolness.

Personal Perspective: While some argue that Git rebase is a powerful problem-solving tool, In my three years of Git experience, I haven’t found it indispensable. Merge commits haven’t posed any issues, as Git blame or Git bisect are more practical for the majority of use cases.

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