gitcli - Git command-line interface and conventions




   This manual describes the convention used throughout Git CLI.

   Many commands take revisions (most often "commits", but sometimes
   "tree-ish", depending on the context and command) and paths as their
   arguments. Here are the rules:

   *   Revisions come first and then paths. E.g. in git diff v1.0 v2.0
       arch/x86 include/asm-x86, v1.0 and v2.0 are revisions and arch/x86
       and include/asm-x86 are paths.

   *   When an argument can be misunderstood as either a revision or a
       path, they can be disambiguated by placing -- between them. E.g.
       git diff -- HEAD is, "I have a file called HEAD in my work tree.
       Please show changes between the version I staged in the index and
       what I have in the work tree for that file", not "show difference
       between the HEAD commit and the work tree as a whole". You can say
       git diff HEAD -- to ask for the latter.

   *   Without disambiguating --, Git makes a reasonable guess, but errors
       out and asking you to disambiguate when ambiguous. E.g. if you have
       a file called HEAD in your work tree, git diff HEAD is ambiguous,
       and you have to say either git diff HEAD -- or git diff -- HEAD to

       When writing a script that is expected to handle random user-input,
       it is a good practice to make it explicit which arguments are which
       by placing disambiguating -- at appropriate places.

   *   Many commands allow wildcards in paths, but you need to protect
       them from getting globbed by the shell. These two mean different

           $ git checkout -- *.c
           $ git checkout -- \*.c

       The former lets your shell expand the fileglob, and you are asking
       the dot-C files in your working tree to be overwritten with the
       version in the index. The latter passes the *.c to Git, and you are
       asking the paths in the index that match the pattern to be checked
       out to your working tree. After running git add hello.c; rm
       hello.c, you will not see hello.c in your working tree with the
       former, but with the latter you will.

   *   Just as the filesystem .  (period) refers to the current directory,
       using a .  as a repository name in Git (a dot-repository) is a
       relative path and means your current repository.

   Here are the rules regarding the "flags" that you should follow when
   you are scripting Git:

   *   it's preferred to use the non-dashed form of Git commands, which
       means that you should prefer git foo to git-foo.

   *   splitting short options to separate words (prefer git foo -a -b to
       git foo -ab, the latter may not even work).

   *   when a command-line option takes an argument, use the stuck form.
       In other words, write git foo -oArg instead of git foo -o Arg for
       short options, and git foo --long-opt=Arg instead of git foo
       --long-opt Arg for long options. An option that takes optional
       option-argument must be written in the stuck form.

   *   when you give a revision parameter to a command, make sure the
       parameter is not ambiguous with a name of a file in the work tree.
       E.g. do not write git log -1 HEAD but write git log -1 HEAD --; the
       former will not work if you happen to have a file called HEAD in
       the work tree.

   *   many commands allow a long option --option to be abbreviated only
       to their unique prefix (e.g. if there is no other option whose name
       begins with opt, you may be able to spell --opt to invoke the
       --option flag), but you should fully spell them out when writing
       your scripts; later versions of Git may introduce a new option
       whose name shares the same prefix, e.g.  --optimize, to make a
       short prefix that used to be unique no longer unique.


   From the Git 1.5.4 series and further, many Git commands (not all of
   them at the time of the writing though) come with an enhanced option

   Here is a list of the facilities provided by this option parser.

   Magic Options
   Commands which have the enhanced option parser activated all understand
   a couple of magic command-line options:

       gives a pretty printed usage of the command.

           $ git describe -h
           usage: git describe [options] <commit-ish>*
              or: git describe [options] --dirty

               --contains            find the tag that comes after the commit
               --debug               debug search strategy on stderr
               --all                 use any ref
               --tags                use any tag, even unannotated
               --long                always use long format
               --abbrev[=<n>]        use <n> digits to display SHA-1s

       Some Git commands take options that are only used for plumbing or
       that are deprecated, and such options are hidden from the default
       usage. This option gives the full list of options.

   Negating options
   Options with long option names can be negated by prefixing --no-. For
   example, git branch has the option --track which is on by default. You
   can use --no-track to override that behaviour. The same goes for
   --color and --no-color.

   Aggregating short options
   Commands that support the enhanced option parser allow you to aggregate
   short options. This means that you can for example use git rm -rf or
   git clean -fdx.

   Abbreviating long options
   Commands that support the enhanced option parser accepts unique prefix
   of a long option as if it is fully spelled out, but use this with a
   caution. For example, git commit --amen behaves as if you typed git
   commit --amend, but that is true only until a later version of Git
   introduces another option that shares the same prefix, e.g. git commit
   --amenity option.

   Separating argument from the option
   You can write the mandatory option parameter to an option as a separate
   word on the command line. That means that all the following uses work:

       $ git foo --long-opt=Arg
       $ git foo --long-opt Arg
       $ git foo -oArg
       $ git foo -o Arg

   However, this is NOT allowed for switches with an optional value, where
   the stuck form must be used:

       $ git describe --abbrev HEAD     # correct
       $ git describe --abbrev=10 HEAD  # correct
       $ git describe --abbrev 10 HEAD  # NOT WHAT YOU MEANT


   Many commands that can work on files in the working tree and/or in the
   index can take --cached and/or --index options. Sometimes people
   incorrectly think that, because the index was originally called cache,
   these two are synonyms. They are not --- these two options mean very
   different things.

   *   The --cached option is used to ask a command that usually works on
       files in the working tree to only work with the index. For example,
       git grep, when used without a commit to specify from which commit
       to look for strings in, usually works on files in the working tree,
       but with the --cached option, it looks for strings in the index.

   *   The --index option is used to ask a command that usually works on
       files in the working tree to also affect the index. For example,
       git stash apply usually merges changes recorded in a stash to the
       working tree, but with the --index option, it also merges changes
       to the index as well.

   git apply command can be used with --cached and --index (but not at the
   same time). Usually the command only affects the files in the working
   tree, but with --index, it patches both the files and their index
   entries, and with --cached, it modifies only the index entries.

   See also and for further information.


   Part of the git(1) suite


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