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6.5.2 The Branch Popup

The popup magit-branch-popup is used to create and checkout branches, and to make changes to existing branches. It is not used to fetch, pull, merge, rebase, or push branches, i.e. this popup deals with branches themselves, not with the commits reachable from them. Those features are available from separate popups.

b     (magit-branch-popup)

This prefix command shows the following suffix commands in a popup buffer.

By default it also displays the values of some branch-related Git variables and allows changing their values, just like the specialized magit-branch-config-popup does.

User Option: magit-branch-popup-show-variables

Whether the magit-branch-popup shows Git variables. This defaults to t to avoid changing key bindings. When set to nil, no variables are displayed directly in this popup, and the sub-popup magit-branch-config-popup has to be used indead to view and change branch related variables.

b b     (magit-checkout)

Checkout a revision read in the minibuffer and defaulting to the branch or arbitrary revision at point. If the revision is a local branch then that becomes the current branch. If it is something else then HEAD becomes detached. Checkout fails if the working tree or the staging area contain changes.

b n     (magit-branch)

Create a new branch. The user is asked for a branch or arbitrary revision to use as the starting point of the new branch. When a branch name is provided, then that becomes the upstream branch of the new branch. The name of the new branch is also read in the minibuffer.

Also see option magit-branch-prefer-remote-upstream.

b c     (magit-branch-and-checkout)

This command creates a new branch like magit-branch, but then also checks it out.

Also see option magit-branch-prefer-remote-upstream.

b s     (magit-branch-spinoff)

This command creates and checks out a new branch starting at and tracking the current branch. That branch in turn is reset to the last commit it shares with its upstream. If the current branch has no upstream or no unpushed commits, then the new branch is created anyway and the previously current branch is not touched.

This is useful to create a feature branch after work has already began on the old branch (likely but not necessarily "master").

If the current branch is a member of the value of option magit-branch-prefer-remote-upstream (which see), then the current branch will be used as the starting point as usual, but the upstream of the starting-point may be used as the upstream of the new branch, instead of the starting-point itself.

If optional FROM is non-nil, then the source branch is reset to FROM~, instead of to the last commit it shares with its upstream. Interactively, FROM is only ever non-nil, if the region selects some commits, and among those commits, FROM is the commit that is the fewest commits ahead of the source branch. (It not yet possible to spin off a single commit, unless it is the only unpushed commit. See #2920.)

The commit at the other end of the selection actually does not matter, all commits between FROM and HEAD are moved to the new branch. If FROM is not reachable from HEAD or is reachable from the source branch’s upstream, then an error is raised.

b x     (magit-branch-reset)

This command resets a branch, defaulting to the branch at point, to the tip of another branch or any other commit.

When the branch being reset is the current branch, then a hard reset is performed. If there are any uncommitted changes, then the user has to confirm the reset because those changes would be lost.

This is useful when you have started work on a feature branch but realize it’s all crap and want to start over.

When resetting to another branch and a prefix argument is used, then the target branch is set as the upstream of the branch that is being reset.

b k     (magit-branch-delete)

Delete one or multiple branches. If the region marks multiple branches, then offer to delete those. Otherwise, prompt for a single branch to be deleted, defaulting to the branch at point.

b r     (magit-branch-rename)

Rename a branch. The branch and the new name are read in the minibuffer. With prefix argument the branch is renamed even if that name conflicts with an existing branch.

User Option: magit-branch-read-upstream-first

When creating a branch, whether to read the upstream branch before the name of the branch that is to be created. The default is nil, and I recommend you leave it at that.

User Option: magit-branch-prefer-remote-upstream

This option specifies whether remote upstreams are favored over local upstreams when creating new branches.

When a new branch is created, Magit offers the branch, commit, or stash as the default starting point of the new branch. If there is no such thing at point, then it falls back to offer the current branch as starting-point. The user may then accept that default or pick something else.

If the chosen starting-point is a branch, then it may also be set as the upstream of the new branch, depending on the value of the Git variable ‘branch.autoSetupMerge’. By default this is done for remote branches, but not for local branches.

You might prefer to always use some remote branch as upstream. If the chosen starting-point is (1) a local branch, (2) whose name matches a member of the value of this option, (3) the upstream of that local branch is a remote branch with the same name, and (4) that remote branch can be fast-forwarded to the local branch, then the chosen branch is used as starting-point, but its own upstream is used as the upstream of the new branch.

Members of this option’s value are treated as branch names that have to match exactly unless they contain a character that makes them invalid as a branch name. Recommended characters to use to trigger interpretation as a regexp are "*" and "^". Some other characters which you might expect to be invalid, actually are not, e.g. ".+$" are all perfectly valid. More precisely, if ‘git check-ref-format –branch STRING’ exits with a non-zero status, then treat STRING as a regexp.

Assuming the chosen branch matches these conditions you would end up with with e.g.:

feature --upstream--> origin/master

instead of

feature --upstream--> master --upstream--> origin/master

Which you prefer is a matter of personal preference. If you do prefer the former, then you should add branches such as master, next, and maint to the value of this options.

User Option: magit-branch-adjust-remote-upstream-alist

The value of this option is an alist of branches to be used as the upstream when branching a remote branch.

When creating a local branch from an ephemeral branch located on a remote, e.g. a feature or hotfix branch, then that remote branch should usually not be used as the upstream branch, since the push-remote already allows accessing it and having both the upstream and the push-remote reference the same related branch would be wasteful. Instead a branch like "maint" or "master" should be used as the upstream.

This option allows specifing the branch that should be used as the upstream when branching certain remote branches. The value is an alist of the form ((UPSTREAM . RULE)...). The first matching element is used, the following elements are ignored.

UPSTREAM is the branch to be used as the upstream for branches specified by RULE. It can be a local or a remote branch.

RULE can either be a regular expression, matching branches whose upstream should be the one specified by UPSTREAM. Or it can be a list of the only branches that should not use UPSTREAM; all other branches will. Matching is done after stripping the remote part of the name of the branch that is being branched from.

If you use a finite set of non-ephemeral branches across all your repositories, then you might use something like:

(("origin/master" "master" "next" "maint"))

Or if the names of all your ephemeral branches contain a slash, at least in some repositories, then a good value could be:

(("origin/master" . "/"))

Of course you can also fine-tune:

(("origin/maint" . "\\`hotfix/")
 ("origin/master" . "\\`feature/"))
Command: magit-branch-orphan

This command creates and checks out a new orphan branch with contents from a given revision.

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