RE: Git Merge vs. Rebase: What’s the Difference?

I have been using Git for a while and I often see the terms 'merge' and 'rebase'. I'm a bit confused about what each one is for and when to use it. Could someone shed some light on this?

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Git is a very powerful version control system. Two of its main features, 'merge' and 'rebase', are used to integrate changes from one branch to another. Understanding the difference between them will help you make an informed decision about which to use in different situations. 1. Git Merge: 'Merge' is a commonly used option to combine code from two distinctive branches into one. When you perform a 'merge', let's say from a feature branch into the master branch, Git creates a new commit in the master branch which contains the history of both branches. Characteristics: - It maintains the context and history of your branch. - The commit history is non-linear and thus can be complex, making it harder to simplify or clean up commit history. - Ideally suited when you want to combine code from two different branches and preserve the commit history without altering it. 2. Git Rebase: 'Rebase' on the other hand, is a way to integrate changes from one branch to another by applying or "replaying" them on top of another branch. Characteristics: - It creates a "clean" history as commits are moved from one branch and placed on top of another branch. - It's suitable for situations where you've been doing parallel work in your feature branch and want to make it appear as if those changes are made sequentially on top of the changes in the master branch. - During conflict resolution, 'rebase' might require more of your attention than 'merge'. - However, remember that 'rebase' alters commit history, which can be problematic if others are simultaneously working on the same branch. In summary, choosing between 'merge' and 'rebase' depends on whether you want to maintain the existing branching/commit history ('merge'), or have a streamlined, linear commit history ('rebase'). It's generally recommended to use 'merge' when combining code into a shared or public branch, and use 'rebase' to keep your personal or feature branch up-to-date with the latest code of the main branch. Always remember to consider your team's workflow and preferences before deciding which to use. For a beginner, it is good to get comfortable with 'merge' before moving onto 'rebase', and you should definitely master resolving merge conflicts before stepping into the complicated world of rebases.
Answered on August 24, 2023.
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