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Track branches
Learn how to track git branches with the Graphite CLI.

You should be familiar with how to:

If you're just getting started with Graphite, it's likely you have some branches floating around that you created with git, but you want to pull them into your gt workflow. Alternatively, there are situations in which tracking branches can help fix your gt state if your metadata ever gets messed up.

git passthrough enables users to switch between native git commands and gt without interrupting their workflow. There are a number of git commands that aren't implemented in gt because there's no need to recreate them. Here are several you may find useful throughout your workflow:

  • git add: Stage files to commit; -p is helpful for precise cases

  • git stash: Save changes for later (retrieve with git stash pop). Since restacking requires the working tree to be clean, stashing changes you don't intend to commit is often necessary while using gt. The -p option is just like git add's.

  • git diff: See what has changed between two branches.

  • git status: Keep track of your worktree and staging area, just like git.

  • git rebase: Useful for preparing branches created outside of Graphite to be tracked (see below). Also potentially dangerous (see below).

Knowing the effects/benefits of git passthrough is useful when working with externally created branches, since you may need to use a combination of git and gt commands to update your working state. If you ever need to do something that isn't natively supported in gt, you can always jump back to git and sync your changes to gt if needed.

Because of the "restacking" model, it is always safe to update your branches with simple git commands—a gt restack will rebase descendants so that they have the new version in their history.

If you use git instead of gt to create a branch, you must let gt know what its parent is with gt track. It prompts you to select a parent for the current branch from the branch's git history:

Terminal
# Ensure the branch you want to track has the desired parent in its history
# In this case, we want to stack our branch `feature` on `main`
git checkout first_branch
git rebase main first_branch
# Now, we'll track our branch
gt track
# alias
gt tr

If there is more than one potential parent for the feature, you'll be prompted to select one:

Terminal
? Select a parent for first_branch (autocomplete or arrow keys)
❯ last_branch
some_other_branch
main

If you want to track a specific branch that already exists, you can pass the branch name as an argument to branch track:

Terminal
gt track <DESIRED_BRANCH>

Imagine you've created a stack of multiple branches outside of Graphite, or on a different machine, for example. If you run gt track from the tip, Graphite will automatically track multiple branches in a row iterating by parent commits from your current branch until you reach a branch that is already tracked. The --force flag chooses the nearest ancestor of each branch as its parent.

gt track can also be used to fix Graphite metadata if it ever becomes corrupted or invalid.

The CLI's engine keeps track of the base of each branch—meaning, the commit in its history that corresponds to its parent branch. This means that if you use a vanilla git rebase that removes that commit from the branch's history, your branch and its children may suddenly become untracked. In order to bring the branch back into Graphite, you must ensure the branch is correctly based on its parent, and then use gt track to fix its metadata.

Rebases that don't remove that base of the branch from its history are safe. For example, running a git rebase -i on the commits of a branch is safe, although there is a command for this called gt modify --interactive rebase that runs an interactive rebase and then restacks upstack branches when you gt continue.

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