Project: Practicing Git Basics

Introduction

This short project will demonstrate how to use Git to manage and track your project folders.

  1. You will set up a remote repository on GitHub and then copy it onto your local machine.
  2. Once this repo is set up locally, you will be able to use Git like a save button for your files and folders.
  3. When you have finalized your saves, you can then push your local repo up onto GitHub to share with everyone!

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to do the following:

  • Create a Git repository on GitHub and copy it onto your local machine.
  • Describe the difference between staging and committing changes.
  • Describe the difference between committing your changes and pushing them onto GitHub.
  • Explain how to check the status of your current repository from the command line.
  • Explain how to look at the history of your previous commits from the command line.

Assignment

In this project, we’ll walk through the basic Git workflow that you will use in all your projects.

Create the Repository

  1. You should have already created a GitHub account in Project: Your First Rails App. If you haven’t done that yet, you can sign up here.

  2. Create a new repository by clicking the button shown in the screenshot below.
  3. Give your repository the name “git_test” in the repository name input field, and create the repository by clicking the green “Create repository” button at the bottom of the page.
  4. This will redirect you to your new repository on GitHub. To copy this repository onto your local machine, select the SSH option and copy the line next to it.
  5. In the command line on your local machine, navigate to where you want to store this project, and then clone your repository on GitHub onto your computer with git clone followed by the URL you copied in the last step. The full command should look similar to git clone git@github.com:USER-NAME/REPOSITORY-NAME.git.
  6. That’s it! You have successfully connected the repository you created on GitHub to your local machine. To test this, you can cd into the new git_test folder that was downloaded and then enter git remote -v in your command line. This will display the URL of the repository you created in GitHub, which is the remote for your local copy. You may have also noticed the word origin at the start of the git remote -v output, which is the name of your remote connection. The name “origin” is both the default and the convention for the remote repository, but it could have just as easily been named “party-parrot” or “dancing-banana”. (Don’t worry about the details of origin for now; it will come up again near the end of this tutorial.)

Use the Git Workflow

  1. Create a new file in the git_test folder called “README.md” with the command touch README.md.
  2. Type git status in your terminal. In the output, notice that your README.md file is shown in red, which means that this file is not staged.
  3. Type git add README.md. This command adds your README.md file to the staging area in Git. Now, type git status again. In the output, notice that your file is now shown in green, which means that this file is now in the staging area.
  4. Type git commit -m "Add README.md" and then type git status once more. The output should now say, “nothing to commit”, indicating that your changes have been committed.
  5. Type git log and look at the output. You should see an entry for your “Add README.md” commit. You will also see details on the author who made the commit and the date and time for when the commit was made.

Add Another File

  1. Create a new file in the git_test folder called hello_world.txt. In the terminal, type git status, and notice hello_world.txt is not staged.
  2. Open README.md in your text editor of choice and add the text “This is (YourUsername)’s first git project!” and then save the file.
  3. Back in your terminal, type git status, and notice that README.md is no longer staged.
  4. Add README.md to the staging area with git add README.md.
  5. Can you guess what git status will output now? README.md will be displayed in green text, while hello_world.txt will still be in red. This means that only README.md has been added to the staging area.
  6. Now, add hello_world.txt to the staging area with a slightly different command: git add ., where the full stop means to add all files that are not staged. Then, type git status once more, and everything should now be in the staging area.
  7. Finally, let’s commit all of the files that are in the staging area and add a descriptive commit message git commit -m "Add hello_world.txt and edit README.md". Then, type git status once again, which will output “nothing to commit”.
  8. Take one last look at your commit history by typing git log. You should now see two entries.

Push Your Work to GitHub

Finally, let’s upload your work to the GitHub repository you created at the start of this tutorial.

  1. Type git push origin master.
  2. Type git status one final time. It should output “nothing to commit, working tree clean”.
  3. When you reload the repository on GitHub, you should see the README.md and hello_world.txt files that you just pushed there from your local machine.

Conclusion

The main take away from the past few lessons is how to use Git and GitHub for your projects. You now have this very powerful skill that will help you immensely when we get into the coding projects. You will be able to share your work with others for code reviews and to get help with your code if you’re stuck.

In later Git lessons, we will cover some of the more advanced Git features, such as branches, which will further expand your abilities and make you more productive.

For now, concentrate on using the basics of Git that you’ve learned here with all of your projects from now on. You will soon know each of the basic Git commands from memory!

Additional Resources

This section contains helpful links to other content. It isn’t required, so consider it supplemental for if you need to dive deeper into something.

Web Development 101

Project: Practicing Git Basics

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