October 12, 2011
In this post I present a workflow I use to help me efficiently go through Git merge conflicts and correct them. It eliminates some of the typing and tedium involved in this process.
It starts with a shell alias,
conflicts. The alias is defined as:
alias conflicts="git ls-files --unmerged | cut -f2 | uniq"
unmerged means a file that couldn’t be merged because of a conflict. So this Git command lists all of the objects containing conflicts. I pipe that command’s output to
cut -f2 to get the second column of its output, the filenames. I then remove repeat entries using
uniq, since this
ls-files command outputs multiple objects for each conflict.
When I want to start resolving conflicts, I issue the command
conflicts | xargs mvim.
xargs is a powerful tool that takes its standard input – in this case, a list of files – and and provides that to a command as arguments. So, MacVim receives the list of conflicting files as arguments and loads the files into its buffer list.
I then fix the first conflict. If I’m dealing with a particularly long file, I use
/ to search for
<<<< or other such conflict markers that Git places in the file.
When I’m done fixing the conflict, I execute
:Git add % to add the file to the Git index. fugitive.vim, Time Pope’s essential Git intergation tool for Vim, provides the
:Git command which passes through your command to the
git command line. On the Vim command line
% refers to the current file.1
Having fixed a conflict and added a file to the Git index, I’m ready to deal with the next conflict. To get to the next conflicted file I use
:bd for short. Since we started Vim with a series of files as command line arguments, the buffer list is loaded with all the files we need to edit.
:bdelete discards the current one and loads the next one. I repeat this process until there are no buffers left.
Once there are no remaining conflicts, I close my Vim window, go back to a terminal, and complete the merge using
gc. What is
gc? It’s an alias for
git commit --verbose. Verbose commit output is awesome because it shows exactly what you’re about to commit. It saves me the step of doing
git diff before each commit. I never want to commit without
And that’s it. If this tended to be a long process or one I undertook more often, I could automate it further by creating a Vim command that combines the
git add and
:bdelete steps. As it stands, this workflow eliminates typing out long filenames and introduces a pleasant rhythm to this process. I hope this post has inspired you to script the tedious workflows in your Unix life. What tedious operations would you like to automate away?
%is a great feature that I recommend reading up on. Also check out the bash-like filename modifiers that you can use with
%. Most often, I use the “head” modifier,
:h, to change to the directory of the current file:
:cd %:h. Or, if I’m editing a new file in a directory that doesn’t exist yet, I can create the directory:
:!mkdir -p %:h. ↩