RE: Understanding Git ignore: How and When to use it?

I've heard about the .gitignore file but don't fully understand its purpose. Can someone clarify when and how to use .gitignore? What kind of files should be included in it?

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The `.gitignore` file plays a crucial role in Git version control system. This file instructs Git to deliberately ignore certain files (or types of files) in your project directory. ### When to use .gitignore `.gitignore` file is used when there are files or folders in your project that you don't want Git to track or consider. For example, the following cases highlight situations when `.gitignore` is helpful: 1. **Compiled source codes**: Files like .o and .class files, which are re-created whenever you build your app. They derive directly from your code and there's no need to store them in version control. 2. **Packages and libraries**: The folders holding the necessary libraries and packages like node_modules. It's better to ignore them and advise anyone who checks out the repository to download them independently. 3. **Logs and databases**: These are system-generated files such as log, .ldb, .suo, and .sqlite, which are constantly changing and do not contribute to code functionality. 4. **System Files**: These are files created by the operating system or editor, like `.DS_Store` on MacOS and `Thumbs.db` on Windows, `.vscode` or `.idea` files created by Visual Studio Code or Intellij Idea IDEs respectively. 5. **Environment sensitive files**: Files like .env which might contain sensitive data such as API keys, passwords, and other related configs that vary from one environment to another. ### How to use .gitignore You create a `.gitignore` file in the root directory of your repository. The syntax is pretty straightforward. Precede each entry with path from the repository root and use `/` to ignore paths relative to `.gitignore`. Use `#` to add comments. Here’s an example of a typical `.gitignore` file: ``` # Compiled source code *.class *.o # Packages node_modules/ # Logs and databases *.log *.sqlite # System Files .DS_Store Thumbs.db # User-specific files (e.g. IDE/editor) .vscode/ .idea/ # Environment files .env ``` Files already tracked by Git are not affected; `.gitignore` will only ignore untracked files. If a file is already tracked by Git, you must first untrack it by using the command `git rm --cached `. Please note that `.gitignore` is not a security tool and should not be used to protect sensitive data. Sensitive data committed to a Git repository, even in the past, can still be accessed and seen by others. [GitHub provides a collection of useful .gitignore templates]( for many common programming languages and tools which you might find useful as a starting point. By using the `.gitignore` file, you keep your repository clean, avoid tracking unnecessary files, and improve performance.
Answered on August 24, 2023.
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