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Custom Git Commands in 3 Steps

I’m lazy and so I seek ways to reduce repetitious activities. For instance, I’ve spent a lot of time in a terminal typing Git commands. A few of the more common commands, I’ve aliased. If I want to see a list of branches, I used to type:

Listing Git branches
$> git branch -v -a

But after adding an alias to my bash profile, I simply type gb. I’ve done this for a few commands like git commit, which is gc and gca for the -a flag.

Occasionally, aliases aren’t enough and when it comes to Git, you can create custom commands that can be referenced like so:

Your custom Git command
$> git my-command

To create a custom command, you first need to create a file named git-my-command; second, you must place the resultant file on your path. Finally, you need to make the file executable. You can write this file in Bash, Ruby, or Python – it doesn’t matter.

For example, I tend to find myself stashing some uncommitted changes and then later popping those stashed changes onto a new branch. I end up executing the following steps:

A simple Git flow
$> git stash
$> git stash branch some_branch

The key step I want to simplify is the last one – I’m lazy and I’d rather not type 4 words. I’d rather type git unstash some_branch because it saves me one word.

Following the three simple steps I mentioned above, I’ll first create a file in my ~/bin directory called git-unstash. The ~/bin directory is in my path because my .bashrc has this line: PATH=$PATH:$HOME/bin.

My git-unstash script will be simple – it takes an argument (the branch name, i.e. $1); therefore, the script does a simple check to ensure the branch name is provided.

Custom Git command: unstash

((!$#)) && echo No branch name, command ignored! && exit 1

git stash branch $1

After I’m done writing it, I’ll do a quick chomd +x and all three steps are accomplished.

Now my new flow is this:

A simple Git flow
$> git stash
$> git unstash some_branch

Custom Git commands are that simple to invent – first, create a file named git-my-command. Next, place it on your path; and, finally, make it executable. Be lazy and carry on, baby!