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Jomagene for KADEA ACADEMY

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Navigating the Stormy Waters of Git Merge Conflicts: A Guide for basic git conflicts

Merge conflicts in Git can feel like a sudden storm in the calm seas of coding. They disrupt the work flow and can be intimidating for both new and experienced developers alike. However, with the right knowledge and tools, resolving these conflicts can be straightforward and even become a routine part of a developer’s workflow. In this guide, we'll explore the nature of merge conflicts, how to effectively resolve them, and best practices to minimize their occurrence.

Understanding Merge Conflicts

A merge conflict occurs when Git is unable to automatically resolve differences in code between two commits. This typically happens when two branches have made edits to the same line of a file or when one branch deletes a file while another modifies it. For developers working in teams, conflicts are a common scenario, especially in large projects with frequent updates.

Common Scenarios Leading to Merge Conflicts

  • Simultaneous Edits: Two branches modify the same part of the same file differently.
  • Deletions and Modifications: One branch deletes a file while another branch is making changes to it.
  • Divergent Branch Strategies: Long-running branches that diverge significantly from the main branch can lead to complex conflicts.

How to Resolve Merge Conflicts

When a conflict occurs, Git will pause the merge process, allowing you to manually resolve the issues. The steps to handle a merge conflict can be outlined as follows:

1 . Identify Conflicted Files:
Use the command git status to list the files with conflicts.

   $ git status
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2 . Examine the Differences:
Open the conflicted file and you will see markers that delineate the conflicting changes:

   <<<<<<< HEAD
   <div id="footer">contact :</div>
   <div id="footer">
   please contact us at
   >>>>>>> iss53
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Here, the HEAD pointer shows the current branch version, and the iss53 marks the incoming branch version.

3 . Resolve the Conflicts:
Edit the file to merge the changes manually. This may involve choosing one side's changes, merging elements of both sides, or writing new code.

4 . Mark the Conflict as Resolved:
Use git add to stage the resolved file. This signals to Git that the conflict has been dealt with.

   $ git add <file>
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5 . Complete the Merge:
With all conflicts resolved and the changes staged, use git commit to complete the merge. Git will present a default commit message detailing the merge, which you can modify if necessary.

   $ git commit
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Tools for Resolving Conflicts

For those who prefer a visual approach, several tools can facilitate the resolution process:

  • Built-in tools like git mergetool: Launches a graphical tool to help resolve conflicts. Popular tools include Meld, Beyond Compare, and KDiff3.
  $ git mergetool
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  • IDEs and Editors: Most integrated development environments (IDEs) and code editors like Visual Studio Code, IntelliJ IDEA, and Atom provide GUI-based conflict resolution features.

Best Practices to Avoid Merge Conflicts

While conflicts are sometimes inevitable, the following strategies can minimize their frequency and severity:

  • Frequent Commits: Smaller, more frequent commits can reduce the complexity of merges.
  • Regular Pulls: Regularly pulling changes from the main branch into feature branches keeps branches up-to-date and minimizes divergence.
  • Communication: Coordinate with team members when working on the same files or features.
  • Branch Management: Keep branch lifetimes short and integrate changes regularly.


Merge conflicts in Git, while challenging, are a manageable aspect of collaborative software development. Understanding how to effectively resolve these conflicts ensures that development processes run smoothly and efficiently. With the right strategies and tools, developers can turn the daunting task of resolving merge conflicts into a simple routine, allowing the team to focus on what they do best: building great software.

Top comments (4)

ccoveille profile image
Christophe Colombier

For going further, git offers other conflict format than the default one.

It can help a lot for resolving them.

I suggest you reading my article about it

jomagene profile image
Jomagene • Edited

@ccoveille thank you so much for that. This was definitely just about the basic conflict.

patricekalwira profile image
Patrice Kalwira

Good article. Thanks

jomagene profile image

You're welcome dear @patricekalwira