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How to Fix a Broken Commit in Git: A Comprehensive Guide

In software development, Git has become the go-to version control system. Its robustness and flexibility make it indispensable for tracking changes in code repositories. However, even the most experienced developers encounter hiccups along the way. 

One such hiccup is the dreaded “broken commit.” A broken commit can occur for various reasons, including coding errors, incomplete changes, or incorrect commit messages. 

This comprehensive guide will explore how to fix a broken commit in Git, breaking it down into easy-to-follow steps. By the end of this journey, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to tackle broken commits like a pro.

Understanding a Broken Commit

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of fixing broken commits, let’s establish a clear understanding of what they are. In Git, a commit serves as a snapshot of your code at a specific point in time. Ideally, each commit should represent a self-contained, functional piece of work. A broken commit, however, fails to meet these criteria. It might contain errors in the code, incomplete changes, or an inaccurate commit message.

Step 1: Identifying the Broken Commit

Your journey to Fix a Broken Commit in Git begins with identifying it. You need to pinpoint the exact commit that’s causing issues. To do this, use the trusty git log command:

git log

This command displays a chronological list of commits in your repository. Find the commit that’s causing trouble and take note of its commit hash or any unique identifier.

Step 2: Create a Backup Branch

Before making any changes, it’s wise to create a safety net in the form of a backup branch. This ensures you can experiment and make corrections without fearing ruining your primary codebase. To create a new branch and switch to it, use the following command:

git checkout -b fix-broken-commit

This single command crafts a new branch named fix-broken-commit and sets it as your active working branch.

Read Also: How to Install Git on Amazon Linux

Step 3: Make the Necessary Fixes

With your backup branch in place, you can roll up your sleeves and start addressing the issues in the broken commit. This step encompasses various tasks:

Code Fixes: If the commit contains code errors, locate the affected files and rectify the mistakes. Ensure that the corrected code functions as intended.

Commit Message: Sometimes, the issue lies in the commit message itself. To amend it, use the git commit –amend command:

git commit –amend

This command opens a text editor where you can edit the commit message. Make the necessary changes, save, and exit the editor.

File Changes: If you need to add or remove files from the commit, employ the git add and git rm commands to stage the modifications and then commit them.

Step 4: Amend the Commit

Once you’ve made the requisite fixes, it’s time to amend the broken commit. Use the following command:

git commit –amend

This command opens a text editor, allowing you to review and modify the commit message. Save your changes and close the editor to finalize the commit.

Step 5: Push the Fixed Commit

After successfully amending the commit, you must push the changes to your remote repository. Execute this command:

git push origin fix-broken-commit

This command sends your changes from the backup branch to the remote repository. This step ensures your team can view and review your fixes if you collaborate on a project.

Step 6: Create a Pull Request (Optional)

Creating a pull request (PR) is a recommended practice in collaborative development environments. A PR allows your team to review and discuss the changes before merging them into the primary codebase. Platforms like GitHub and GitLab make creating PRs straightforward.

Step 7: Merge the Fixed Commit

Once your changes are reviewed and approved, it’s time to merge the fixed commit into the main branch. Merging integrates your fixes with the rest of the codebase, ensuring everyone benefits from the improvements.

Step 8: Cleanup

With your broken commit fixed and merged, it’s essential to maintain a clean and organized repository. You can accomplish this by removing the backup branch you created earlier, as it’s no longer needed:

git branch -d fix-broken-commit

This command deletes the backup branch, contributing to a tidy repository structure.

Advanced Techniques for Broken Commits

While the steps outlined above cover the basics of fixing broken commits, there are advanced techniques that can further refine your Git skills:

Interactive Rebasing

Interactive rebasing is a powerful tool that allows you to rewrite commit history. You can squash multiple commits into one, reorder, or edit commit messages interactively. This can be incredibly useful when dealing with a series of problematic commits. To initiate an interactive rebase, use the following command:

git rebase -i HEAD~n

Replace n with the number of commits you want to rebase interactively.

Git Reflog

The Git reflog is a hidden log that records all changes to branch references, including commit amends. It’s your safety net in case things go awry during the fixing process. To view the reflog, use:

git reflog

You can use the reflog to restore your branch to a previous state if you make a mistake while fixing a broken commit.

Force Push (with Caution)

While we recommend against force pushing in most situations, there may be cases where it’s necessary. Force pushing overwrites the remote branch history, so use it with extreme caution and only when you’re certain it won’t disrupt collaboration with your team.

To force push, use:

git push -f origin your-branch-name


So, you can Fix a Broken Commit in Git with these advanced techniques and a solid understanding of the fundamentals. Remember, Git is a versatile and resilient tool that empowers developers to collaborate effectively and maintain code quality. By mastering these techniques, you’ll become a more proficient coder and contribute to the success of your projects and the broader developer community. Happy coding!

Git is a valuable tool in the arsenal of every software developer. Knowing how to address broken commits is a skill that will serve you well throughout your coding journey. Don’t let a broken commit slow you down—take action and ensure your codebase remains robust, functional, and error-free.

By mastering the art of fixing broken commits, you’ll enhance your development workflow and contribute to your projects’ overall success. With each fixed commit, you’re one step closer to achieving your coding goals and delivering high-quality software. So, embrace the challenge, and may your Git repositories remain pristine and your code impeccable!

Olivia Charlotte
Olivia Charlottehttps://sarticle.com
Olivia Charlotte can usually be found reading a book or doing something new, something creative. It mesmerized her to do something that will help her to feel she's helping others with her knowledge. After her graduation, she got herself into reading and writing many creatives. In her lonely time, she found cooking her favorite dishes. Olivia always keeps herself a bit separate from others because her mind is always thinking and not everyone can accept it. After she found SArticle.com, she finally had a place to share her helpful writings with people who want to get resourceful articles on almost anything.
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