git the distributed version control system built for the Linux kernel is widely used nowadays and has been adapted by more and more dev-teams. Developing with git in a small team requires a different workflow to push/pull/merge/rebase without any problems. This post describes a minimal workflow, which builds up on feature branches on which the developer implements their changes. The master-branch tracks the remote changes and the feature branch will be merged into master if the work is done.

The workflow requires the following steps:

  1. Create a feature branch by typing feature MYLITTLEBRANCHNAME
  2. A new branch called MYLITTLEBRANCHNAME has been created and checked out for you
  3. You will edit some files and create some commits until your feature is complete
  4. Merge your changes into master by typing merge_with_master. This will checkout the master-branch and runs a git pull on it. Now it tries to merge your branch. If new commits are added to master since you created your feature-branch, a Fast-Forward-Merge is not possible and merge_with_master asks you if it should rebase your changes on the current master. If you accept this, a git rebase master will be executed and another attempt to merge your code into master will be started.
  5. Your changes are now merged into master and the feature-branch has been deleted. You can now push your code to a remote git-repo.


The workflow is implemented as a shell-alias and a shell-function which should work in both zsh and bash. To install it, copy the following lines into your ~/.[bash|zsh]rc and start a new shell-session.

The workflow in action

The following shell session shows the workflow in action. A situation, where a Fast-Forward-Merge is not possible, is created and than resolved by merge_with_master. All lines started by a $-sign are shell commands.

$ echo "Test" >>
$ git add . && git commit -am "Added README"
[master (root-commit) 50c0b89] Added README
1 file changed, 1 insertion(+)
create mode 100644
$ feature README_improvements
Switched to a new branch 'README_improvements'
$ git checkout master
Switched to branch 'master'
$ echo "\nTesttest" >>
$ git add . && git commit -am "Updated README"
[master 483c7b6] Updated README
1 file changed, 2 insertions(+)
$ git checkout README_improvements
Switched to branch 'README_improvements'
$ echo "*.pyc" >> .gitignore
$ git add . && git commit -am "Added .gitignore"
[README_improvements 7a84507] Added .gitignore
1 file changed, 1 insertion(+)
create mode 100644 .gitignore
$ merge_with_master
Switched to branch 'master'
fatal: Not possible to fast-forward, aborting.
Switched to branch 'README_improvements'
Your are behind master, a clean Merge is not possible!
Should I rebase it with master and try it again? (y/n) y
First, rewinding head to replay your work on top of it...
Applying: Added .gitignore
Switched to branch 'master'
Updating 483c7b6..49445e7
.gitignore | 1 +
1 file changed, 1 insertion(+)
create mode 100644 .gitignore
Deleted branch README_improvements (was 49445e7).
You can now 'git push' your code