Git tricks to avoid committing commented-out and other unneeded code

Yesterday’s email talked about whether commented-out code should be present if your code is version-controlled, but how do you avoid committing it in the first place?

You could make sure that you remove everything manually before you stage and commit your changes, or I like to use git add --patch (or git add -p) to interactively stage my changes, allowing me to select which parts of files I want to include in my commit and ignore anything else. The --patch option also works for other commands, including checkout and reset.

If you’ve already committed something like some debug code, you can use git commit --amend to amend the previous commit before pushing it, or if you have a separate clean-up commit, you can use git rebase --interactive and either the squash or fixup options to amend the original commit.

If some old code has been removed and you want to find it, you can use git log -S with a string to search for, and Git will show a list of commits where the specified string was changed.

If instead, you wanted to search for text within the commit message, you can use git log --grep with a string like an issue number to see a list of commits with that text in the commit message subject line or body.

I hope these tips help keep unwanted code out of your version-control repository.