Book Review: Pro Git

I've mentioned at least once my opinion that I would have preferred for Mercurial to have won the distributed version control systems race, because its commands were way more consistent and easy. But as of today, git has both come a long way and it it also a very powerful tool. And won the battle. So, I fully embraced git and been trying to level up lately.

I've written a git cheatsheet since quite some time, and while it still does not cover everything (and won't), I've added a bunch of new content after reading the book.


Pro Git book cover

Title: Pro Git

Author(s): Scott Chacon, Ben Straub

If I had to summarize this book quickly, I'd say: If you use git, you must read it.

I've read dozens of articles and tutorials with varying difficulty levels (the hardest being at times git's own documentation). Since the first chapter, I found the explanations excellent. Everything is nicely explained, accompanied by examples, and any time the topic at hand might be non-trivial to understand, the authors will also include helpful diagrams showing branches, commits, or whatever is needed.

Need to learn about the different states a file can be (untracked, staged, committed, ...)? Check; need to learn complex strategies to bring commits from some branches to others when all of them had changes? Check; want to know how git stores commit references and even learn how to do low-level operations and other hardcore stuff? Check. To provide some context, the book is heavily based on git, and GitHub is barely mentioned here and there, so you will learn to do things in a generic but proper way and then lean on services such as GitHub or GitLab to maintain your remote repositories, user accounts and the like. But if you want, the book teaches you how to setup your own git servers (and even how the different available communication protocols work).

Over the ~520 pages, there's so much content, sometimes in so much detail, that I skipped most of the server management content. But now I know that it is explained there too, and if I need to, I can go back and check how to manage user credentials and push/pull repository permissions. I recommend picking, at minimum, all the general chapters (which can be around 50% of the book).

I wish I had read the book earlier because now I learn how git works internally, which helps me better understand any merge issue, any colleague asking "how do I xxxxx?", and how best to work with the tool.

Minor update: I just remembered mentioning another remarkable feature of the book. It is freely available for download. So there's no excuse not to give it a try.

Tags: Reviews

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