Crazy Little Hacks

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

Supercharging Your Git

Git is so awesome and packs so much power that I could hardly fit it all in a blog post (or 100 for that matter). What this post will talk about though, are a couple of ways to extend your git for it to better serve you on your everyday tasks.


This is post is not about ZSH, but it is awesome and you should install it. All the configs will assume you are using it, but surely there are ways of doing the same for your shell of choice.


hub is a command line tool that wraps git in order to extend it with extra features and commands that make working with GitHub easier.

This is the description taken straight out of the project’s README. Hub is written by the guys at Github, so it is very much compliant with everything on the site. As of recently you can install it with Homebrew (non-mac users will have to compile it manuallly, I believe).

brew install --HEAD hub  # For the 2.x version

Now you can use hub and all it’s powers. The sane thing to do though, is to alias git to hub, which works perfectly as hub will delegate all non-hub commands to git.

Just open your .zshrc and add the alias:

alias git='hub'

When you brew install hub you will see that it installs completion files to you system.

zsh completion has been installed to:

If you run echo $fpath on your terminal that path should be there. fpath stands for functions path and you can store you functions in any directory listed in fpath. Read more about zsh functions here.

This will provide auto-complete functionality for all your git needs.

If you are like me, though, and git is the command you use more often (about 30% of the time in my case), you will probably want to alias it to something shorter, such as g.

alias g='git'

So now g maps to git which maps to hub. Great! We have, however, introduced an issue. Auto-complete is broken. That is because the git auto completion function is only expecting git or gitk as commands to auto complete.

You can add g to that set easily enough. Again, open your .zshrc and add compdef g=git.

You should have everything ready to go.

Git commands

Hub adds some really nice things, but what about those specific commands you love to use? At some point all of us have added commands as aliases in gitconfig.

    ia = add --intent-to-add -A

This is not inherently bad, but it can go out of hand pretty quickly. Moreover, you don’t really have a lot of scripting power with these aliases. As you might have guessed by now, there is a better way of doing this and it is so cool that even some of the builtin commands use this strategy.

The basic idea is that any executable script on you PATH that is named git-some-name will be available as a git subcommand, which means you could do git some-name to run the script.

Git is so awesome that it even adds them to git help -a under the title “git commands available from elsewhere on your $PATH”, which will then power the auto completion, so that will also work for any command you add.

Going back to our example, there’s a couple of things to do to remove it from an alias into a command, add a directory to the PATH and create a script on that directory.

mkdir -p ~/dotfiles/git_commands
export PATH="$HOME/dotfiles/git_commands"  # Also add this to you zshrc, to persist it
echo "git add --intent-to-add -A" > ~/dotfiles/git_commands/git-ia

You should now be able to remove the alias from the gitconfig and still be able to run git ia.

Bonus round

Git will just grab the scripts that follow the aforementioned convention and run them. That means that as long as the shebang is correctly set, you can write a script in any scripting language.

Here’s one in ruby:

#!/usr/bin/env ruby

puts "Hello"

Just name it git-hello, put it in your git_commands directory and you should be able to type g hello and have git say “Hello” back.

Further reading

If you want to check some actual examples you can do it in my dotfiles or in Wynn Netherland’s dotfiles. This post was inspired by a talk given by Wynn at the DallasRB meetup, so do check his stuff.