re: There Is No "Right" Way: Git Rebase vs Merge VIEW POST


Ah, the venomous arguments about trivial things...

On this particular topic, my preference is not to rewrite public history. Rebasing a feature branch that's already on the remote seems wrong to me, so at that point I will always merge master into it. However locally I will rebase most of the time, for all the reasons you outlined here.

Which leads into my example - to squash or not to squash. I've worked with people that think every merge should have a single commit. And others that are just as adamant that you should never rewrite history and every commit should be left the way it was created.

Similar to my merge/rebase preference, I will cleanup my messy local commits by squashing them before pushing. Often I won't squash though because I think the commits are separate things and if I need to revert later on I can be more selective. But what I won't do is squash corrective commits with original commits. If I get feedback on a PR and then I incorporate it I want that history to be preserved. Bizarrely to me, there are some of the 'there shall only be one' committers' who would re-write their branch commits so that changes made after feedback would be incorporated into the same commit as their original changes. They say it's cleaner - to me it's like lying about your work.


Good call on squash or not to squash argument! That always gets our devs going at Kenna lol


The real question is what do you want to get out of your history?

To me history is the why. I like to use the example of undo trees, seen in emacs and vim, these could be view as in memory commits. They have branching and timestamps, but limited in scope to a single file.

The reality is, this isn't the history people keep. They work and craft out a spot they believe is complete. Or they adhere to someone commit twice a day rule. Either way the history is not real.

There are specific tools which make use of history. bisect which searches for a commit. blame which describes a file based on its makeup of commits. revert which is the 'undo' of git, cherry-pick the copy/paste of git. I want to build out a history which maximize the usefulness of these tools.

Git also provides the tools to help with that, staging area, commit --fixup, rebase -i, and more. Fixup is great for code reviews while allowing for quick cleanup before merging.

Yes it doesn't matter, unless your goals line up with mine.


Regarding venomous arguments over trivia seems to me there are a few reasons for this.

The first is that sometimes seeming trivia really does matter.

The second is that some devs lack empathy and can't understand other's preferences.

Following on from these, to non-techies the one can look very much like the other.

Bad devs will often argue personal points on genuine trivia because it makes things nicer for them personally, and since there are likely few real world consequences they don't have to worry about being wrong. Or they just can't tell the difference...

Good and great devs will often still argue trivia for the reason outlined: non-techies and bad devs often can't tell the difference and being seen to be knowledgeable in general can establish them in a position where they can improve the project as a whole, rather than deferring to bad or mediocre devs who would create an inferior product.


Regarding squashed changes for me the answer is simple: on larger projects squash, on smaller projects don't. Reason being is on smaller projects having the complete history right there is useful. On larger ones you'll be forced to scroll through dozens, hundreds or even thousands of commits to find even a relatively recent change. No-one wants to do that.

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