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Using Git with Django

When I started IllestRhyme, I had never used git . Git gives me distributed version control and the ease (and speed!) of the git workflow for a slight learning curve. Below is how I set up my Django project to use git, from start to finish.

To begin, I had my Django project already created and a bit of code in there, so I needed to "add" it to a new git repo. All that's needed for this is to cd into the top level directory and run git init . This sets up a git repo in the directory, but doesn't commit the files. Before committing, we'll want to setup our .gitignore file to tell git what files not to track in version control. Since I'm working with Python files using vim, my .gitignore file has the following contents:


The local_settings.py file is part of my development workflow, as explained in this post. After we create the .gitignore file, we add everything to the repository, using git add . This stages all of our files for commit to git. At this point, we can run git commit to actually commit our files for the first time.

At this point, we have our Django project in a (local) git repository. I use Bitbucket as a "backup" git repo in case I lose my web server. As you might have guessed, I do all my work on the web server directly using ssh, gvim, and X tunneling. This is not necessarily recommended for large projects, but it works well for a single developer. Whenever I make a change and commit it, I use git push to push the commit to Bitbucket, so that Bitbucket always has the latest copy of the repo.

Once we've committed to git, the first thing to do is clone our repository to create a development environment in a new area on our machine reserved for development. If you're cloning on the same machine, you'll use git clone <path/to/original/git/repo>. GitHub or Bitbucket users will use git clone <remote repository>, where "" is what the service shows is the URL for your repo. Regardless, clone your repo to create a dev environment that exactly mirrors your prod environment.

In our new development area, we'll first want to create a branch, using git branch <branchname>. Git creates a branch of the current branch (which for us will have been 'master'). It does not, however, switch you to that branch. To switch to working on your new branch, use git checkout <branchname>. To see what branches are available, just type git branch. The branch you are currently on will be marked with a '*'.

Once you've done some work on your branch that you're happy with, it's time to commit. If you added files during this phase, run git add <filenames> to stage them to be committed. Alternately, you can use git add . to add all untracked files to be committed. From here, just commit using git commit <changedfiles> or git commit -a for all changed files that git is tracking.

Now it's time to merge your changes back into your master branch. Switch back to the master branch with git checkout master and merge the changes with git merge <branchname>. If there are no conflicts, git will auto commit the merge changes and nothing more needs to be done. If conflicts do arise, manually fix them and git commit them. Git will prepopulate the commit message with something like 'Merge from ', which you can replace or, better yet, enhance.

Now that we've got our changes committed to the master branch in our development area, it's time to push them to production. If you're using a service like GitHub or Bitbucket, first push the changes there with a git push. Next, cd into your production area and pull down the changes using git pull (or git pull <development repo area> for a repo on the local machine). This should update the master branch in your production area with all of the changes committed from development. That's it! You've successfully used git to manage changes in a Django project!

I'm certainly no git guru and there are likely aspects of this workflow that can be enhanced or simplified. If you see something that doesn't make sense or can be streamlined, please let me know in the comments. I'm always looking to improve my git-Fu!

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