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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
What is Git cherry-pick?
2.1.
Syntax
3.
When to use cherry-pick?
4.
Using the cherry-pick command
5.
Benefits of git cherry-pick
6.
Important Use Cases of Cherry-pick
7.
Advantages of using Cherry Pick
7.1.
DIsadvantages of using Cherry Pick
7.2.
Practical Examples
8.
Frequently Asked Questions
8.1.
What is a git cherry pick?
8.2.
How to cherry pick files in git?
8.3.
What is the difference between git merge and cherry pick?
8.4.
What is the difference between checkout and cherry pick?
9.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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Git Cherry Pick

Author Sinki Kumari
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Introduction

In the expansive landscape of version control, Git emerges as an indispensable tool for developers. Its array of commands facilitates a seamless collaboration, allowing coders to traverse the intricate web of code versions with ease. One such command that stands out is git cherry-pick. 

git cherry pick

This command enables developers to selectively apply changes from one branch to another, making it a powerful tool for precise code management. This article delves into the nitty-gritty of git cherry-pick, exploring its syntax, use-cases, advantages, and cautionary tales associated with its usage.

What is Git cherry-pick?

The git cherry-pick command is a time traveler in the world of Git. It allows developers to pick a commit from one branch and apply it to another. The syntax is simple yet powerful:

Syntax

git cherry-pick <commit-hash>

 

Here, <commit-hash> refers to the unique identifier of the commit you wish to cherry-pick. This command, though straightforward, opens a realm of possibilities in managing code across different branches.

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When to use cherry-pick?

Use git cherry-pick when you need to selectively apply specific commits from one branch to another, incorporating isolated changes without merging entire branches. It's handy for picking individual fixes or features. We can use use cherry-pick when:

  • Selective Changes: Use cherry-pick when you want to bring specific changes from one branch to another without merging the entire branch. This is beneficial for isolating fixes, features, or updates.
     
  • Hotfix Propagation: If a critical fix is made in a maintenance branch, cherry-pick allows you to apply that fix to other active branches without merging the entire maintenance branch.
     
  • Feature Backporting: When a new feature is developed in an experimental or development branch, cherry-pick enables you to selectively bring that feature into a stable or release branch.
     
  • Avoiding Unrelated Changes: Cherry-pick is useful when you want to avoid bringing in unrelated changes that may exist in the source branch, maintaining a cleaner commit history.
     
  • Commit Sequence Adjustment: If the commit sequence needs adjustment (e.g., fixing the order of commits), cherry-pick allows you to rearrange and apply commits in a desired order.
     
  • Independent Changes: When changes in one branch should remain independent of other branches, cherry-pick allows you to apply only the necessary commits, keeping the branches distinct.

Using the cherry-pick command

Using the git cherry-pick command involves specifying the commit or range of commits you want to apply to the current branch.

1. Identify the Commit: Use git log to find the commit hash of the changes you want to cherry-pick.

git log

 

2. Cherry-Pick the Commit: Apply the desired commit to the current branch using git cherry-pick.

git cherry-pick <commit_hash>

 

If you have multiple commits to cherry-pick, you can specify a commit range.

git cherry-pick <start_commit_hash>^..<end_commit_hash>

 

3. Resolve Conflicts (if any): If there are conflicts during the cherry-pick process, Git will pause and indicate the conflicted files. Resolve conflicts manually, then continue with:

git cherry-pick --continue

 

Alternatively, you can abort the cherry-pick if needed:

git cherry-pick --abort

 

4. Commit the Changes: After resolving conflicts, commit the cherry-picked changes.

git commit -m "Cherry-picked commit <commit_hash>"

Benefits of git cherry-pick

Following are the benefits of git cherry-pick:

  • Cherry-pick allows you to selectively apply specific commits, enabling the integration of isolated changes without merging entire branches.
     
  • It facilitates the efficient propagation of bug fixes from one branch to another, especially when critical changes need to be applied quickly.
     
  • Cherry-pick supports the backporting of features from development or experimental branches to stable or release branches, maintaining flexibility.
     
  • By cherry-picking, you can avoid bringing in unrelated changes that may exist in the source branch, helping to maintain a cleaner commit history.
     
  • It allows for the adjustment of commit sequences, assisting in rearranging and applying commits in a desired order.

Important Use Cases of Cherry-pick

Following are the use cases of cherry-pick:

  1. Bug Fixes Propagation: Quickly apply critical bug fixes from a maintenance branch to other active branches without merging the entire maintenance branch.
     
  2. Feature Backporting: Backport features or enhancements from a development or experimental branch to a stable or release branch for earlier deployment.
     
  3. Selective Integration: Integrate specific commits or changes from one branch to another, maintaining the ability to choose which changes to apply.
     
  4. Avoidance of Unrelated Changes: Cherry-pick helps avoid bringing unrelated changes into a branch, keeping the commit history focused on the desired changes.
     
  5. Commit Sequence Adjustment: Adjust the order of commits in a branch, ensuring a logical and organized commit history.
     
  6. Maintaining Feature Branches: Keep feature branches up-to-date by selectively applying changes from one feature branch to another without merging the entire branches.

Advantages of using Cherry Pick

  • Selective Commit Application:
    git cherry-pick allows developers to apply specific commits from one branch to another, providing a granular level of control. This is especially useful when you need to incorporate certain changes without merging entire branches.
     
  • Error Correction:
    It’s a lifesaver when you need to apply critical bug fixes from one branch to another. Instead of waiting to merge the entire branch, you can cherry-pick the specific commit that resolves the issue, ensuring the stability of your production environment.
     
  • Non-linear Development:
    git cherry-pick facilitates non-linear development, allowing developers to manage commits across divergent branches, thus fostering a flexible development environment.

DIsadvantages of using Cherry Pick

  • Conflict Potential:
    Cherry-picking can lead to merge conflicts if the branches have diverged significantly. This requires developers to resolve conflicts manually, which can be time-consuming.
     
  • History Alteration:
    It creates a new commit hash, which can alter the commit history and potentially lead to confusion. This is especially problematic in collaborative environments where a clear commit history is crucial for understanding the evolution of the codebase.
     
  • Complexity for Large Changes:
    Cherry-picking multiple commits for large changes can become complex and error-prone. It may also lead to duplication of changes, making the commit history convoluted.

Practical Examples

Consider a scenario where a critical security patch has been committed in a development branch, and it’s imperative to apply this fix to the production branch immediately. git cherry-pick comes to the rescue:

# Switch to the production branch

git checkout production

# Cherry-pick the security patch commit

git cherry-pick a1b2c3d4

# Resolve any merge conflicts, if they arise

# ...

# Push the changes to the remote repository

git push origin production

In this example, git cherry-pick is used to swiftly apply a critical security patch from the development branch to the production branch, ensuring the security and stability of the production environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a git cherry pick?

git cherry-pick is a Git command that applies a specific commit from one branch to another, incorporating changes without merging entire branches.

How to cherry pick files in git?

git cherry-pick selects a specific commit from one branch and applies it to another. It copies changes from the chosen commit, creating a new commit in the target branch.

What is the difference between git merge and cherry pick?

git merge combines entire branches, while git cherry-pick applies specific commits. Merge maintains the commit history, while cherry-pick introduces isolated changes.

What is the difference between checkout and cherry pick?

git checkout switches branches or commits without incorporating changes. git cherry-pick selectively applies specific commits to the current branch, integrating their changes.

Conclusion

The git cherry-pick command epitomizes the precision and control that Git offers to developers. Its ability to selectively maneuver commits across branches is invaluable in crafting a robust codebase. As collaborative coding endeavors continue to soar, mastering git cherry-pick will remain a quintessential skill for developers. This command, though simple, encapsulates the essence of effective version control, making it a cornerstone of modern software development.

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