When working with version control systems like Git, there are two popular ways of incorporating changes from one branch to another: merge and rebase. While both approaches serve the same purpose, they differ in the way they handle the history of the repository. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between merge and rebase and when to use each of them.
When you merge two branches, Git creates a new commit that combines the changes from both branches. This commit has two parent commits: one from the current branch and one from the branch being merged. The result is a new commit that has the changes from both branches and preserves the history of both branches.
The advantage of using merge is that it is a non-destructive operation. It does not modify the history of either branch and preserves the commits’ order. It is also a straightforward process that involves running a single command.
When you rebase a branch, Git applies the changes from one branch onto another by rewinding the current branch to the point where the branches diverged and replaying the changes from the other branch on top of it. This creates a linear history with all the changes from both branches in one timeline.
Rebasing creates a cleaner history with a linear sequence of commits that are easier to follow. It also allows you to keep your feature branch up-to-date with the changes in the parent branch. However, rebasing can be a more complicated process than merging and can result in conflicts that need to be resolved manually.
When to Use Merge
Merging is a good option when you want to combine changes from two branches that have diverged and have significant differences in their history. It is also a good option when working on a team where each member works on their feature branch and then merges their changes to a shared branch, like a development or main branch.
When to Use Rebase
Rebasing is a good option when you want to keep a clean and linear history of the changes. It is also useful when you want to incorporate changes from the parent branch frequently to keep your feature branch up-to-date. It is also a good option when you want to rewrite the history of your branch to clean up your commits or squash multiple commits into one.
In summary, merging and rebasing are two popular ways of incorporating changes from one branch to another in Git. While both approaches serve the same purpose, they differ in the way they handle the history of the repository. Use merge when you want to combine changes from two branches that have diverged significantly, and use rebase when you want to keep a clean and linear history or incorporate changes frequently from the parent branch.