To better understand the value of Git aliases we must first discuss what an alias is. The term alias is synonymous with a shortcut. Alias creation is a common pattern found in other popular utilities like `bash` shell. Aliases are used to create shorter commands that map to longer commands. Aliases enable more efficient workflows by requiring fewer keystrokes to execute a command. For a brief example, consider the git checkout command. The checkout command is a frequently used git command, which adds up in cumulative keystrokes over time. An alias can be created that maps git co to git checkout, which saves precious human fingertip power by allowing the shorter keystroke form: git co to be typed instead.
It is important to note that there is no direct git alias command. Aliases are created through the use of the git config command and the Git configuration files. As with other configuration values, aliases can be created in a local or global scope.
$ git config –global alias.co checkout
$ git config –global alias.br branch
$ git config –global alias.ci commit
$ git config –global alias.st status
The previous code example creates globally stored shortcuts for common git commands. Creating the aliases will not modify the source commands. So git checkout will still be available even though we now have the git co alias. These aliases were created with the –global flag which means they will be stored in Git’s global operating system level configuration file. On linux systems, the global config file is located in the User home directory at /.gitconfig.
co = checkout
br = branch
ci = commit
st = status
Git aliasing is enabled through the use of git config, For command-line option and usage examples please review the git config blog.
Ways to create Git Alias:
Aliases can be created through two primary methods:
1. Directly editing Git config files:
The global or local config files can be manually edited and saved to create aliases. The global config file lives at $HOME/.gitconfig file path. The local path lives within an active git repository at /.git/config
The config files will respect an [alias] section that looks like:
co = checkout
Using the git config to create aliases
As previously demonstrated the git config command is a convenient utility to quickly create aliases. The git config command is actually a helper utility for writing to the global and local Git config files.
git config –global alias.co checkout
Git aliases are a powerful workflow tool that create shortcuts to frequently used Git commands. Using Git aliases will make you a faster and more efficient developer. Aliases can be used to wrap a sequence of Git commands into new faux Git command. Git aliases are created through the use of the git config command which essentially modifies local or global Git config files. Learn more on the git config page.
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