Crazy Little Hacks

Some little hacks and random thoughts on what interests me at the moment in the area of computer science.

A Good Commit Message

Lately I came to realise that one of the most important things in a team’s development process is good documentation of what everyone’s been doing.

If you know me well enough you’ll know that I hate documentation, which seems rather contradictory, but I think it all boils down to what good documentation means.

Good documentation, in my opinion, are not wikis, a bunch of shared documents, progress reports, etc… That’s management crap. All a development team needs is a commit history with good commit messages.

Note: I’m using git and git nomenclature as an example, but this applies to any versioning system.

Commit Message Example


Here’s an example of what I consider a good enough commit message. It is composed of three parts:

  1. A first line of no more than 80 characters that sums up the purpose of the commit
  2. One or two paragraphs to explain the changes from a user point of view (user story if available)
  3. A bullet list of technical modifications of note

Integration into the flow

If you follow a flow that’s similar to mine, you don’t need to worry about writing this messages in every commit, since that would be tedious.

What I do is, when on a topic/feature branch I commit at will, with any message I see fit at the moment. This well written message comes only when creating a pull-request, so that someone doing a code review can better understand the changes.


This way of doing commits, in my opinion, make it really nice to read through the git log of summaries, and when in doubt of what a commit does, it’s easy to get more info, providing a nice way of developing as a team. Although it’s also a reminder of why something was done that way, for when you’re looking at the code some time later.