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Git Snippets

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Git Bisect

Bisect is so cool. It performs a binary search on your code commits, so you can find the last time a feature worked, or when a fix was added to the project. Here's how you use it:

  1. Find a commit that you know is before what you're looking for. One you know works, or know was before the fix was added.
  2. git bisect start Starts the run.
  3. git bisect bad Lets it know that the current commit does not have what you want.
  4. git bisect good <commit> Tell it you know this one was earlier than what you want.
  5. Bisect will know pick a commit in between the two you just specified. Run your project however you do, and see if what you want exists in this commit. If it does, type git bisect good. If not, type git bisect bad.
  6. Repeat this process. Bisect will tell you roughly how many more steps it needs to find the commit you want. Keep going until it ultimately spits out some more information.
  7. Bisect will eventually reach 0 steps, and it'll print out the first "bad" commit. This is what you're looking for, where your project changed!
  8. Last step - run git bisect reset to clean up your session and return git's state to where you started. If you wanted to switch it to a particular commit instead, you can do git bisect reset <commit>.

You're done! You should know where to start looking now for whatever changed. Super helpful for bugs, especially if it's been awhile since you've noticed that something wasn't working right!!

Extra things you can do with this:

  • If you want to use words besides good/bad (which can get confusing if you want to find something that's not actually a bug/broken), you can do that. Git allows "old" and "new" as well - when you start the bisect, just use those words (old first) instead of bad & good in your first 3 steps. You can also use git bisect terms to see what the currently set words are.
  • OR, you can use your own custom words (as long as they're not used for other bisect commands)! When you're ready to start, run git bisect start --term-old <term-old> --term-new <term-new>.
  • You can see the commits you have left to check by using git bisect visualize.
  • You can run git bisect log to see what's been marked so far. This would be helpful if you'd accidentally marked something the wrong way - you could save this log output to a file and change the ones you need to change. Then you can run git bisect reset to start over and git bisect replay <file> to load your edited file. That way you don't have to do all of it over again!
  • If you know the current commit you're testing has a different issue from what you're looking for (you know it fails on something else or doesn't compile, whatever), you can tell bisect to skip that commit with git bisect skip - it'll pick another one close by. If you're far enough along (or only have a few suspects) ths might make it a little harder for git to tell which commit is the first bad one, though.
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