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git revert fileGit is a version control system that continues to grow in popularity with developers all over the world due its speed and excellent features. Originally designed for Linux kernel development, there are now versions of Git available for all the major operating systems, and more than one-third of all professional software developers reportedly use it as their primary source control system.

The number has continued to grow over the years as businesses are looking more and more for efficient ways to collaborate on projects. Perhaps the most important feature of any version control system, Git included, is the ability for users to revert a file back to its previous version at any point. Software development can be a tricky process, and considering that significant experimentation is always taking place, it’s inevitable that at some point a file is going to be modified in an undesirable way. If you want to learn about GIT and these commands, try out a Udemy course to learn the Git basics and get started on the path to better understanding one of the most commonly used version control systems today.

One thing you’ll quickly learn is that with Git, every single change made to the group of files you have designated for version control is saved in snap shot form in the program’s history, and reverting a file is easily done. There are many different circumstances when you might need to make changes to a file in Git, however, and each of them requires a different command in the program to achieve the desired result.

Git Checkout

Before you undo any changes that might have been made, you may want to first view what has been changed historically first. The Git Checkout command is an ideal way to do this. Checking out a file allows you to view an old version of any individual file, and does not disturb the rest of the directory in the process. This way, you can see all the older states of a project without having to worry about altering the current state.

Git Revert

If you’ve confirmed that you’d like to undo a previous commit, using the Git Revert command safely removes it from the code base. This way, even if the file you experimented with didn’t produce the desires results and did more harm than good, you can effectively undo the damage without having to worry about the problems it created hanging around in the project as a whole.

It’s important to note that using the Git Revert command does not simply eliminate the committed snap shot, however. What it does instead is create a new snap shot appended to the one that you wanted to undo with all the previously changed components returned to their prior state. In doing so, even when you revert files back to previous versions, you still have a complete revision history to reference at any point you need to access it. This can prove useful when it comes to working together in big teams with everyone assigned to different tasks. Communication is far simpler when everyone remains on the same page regarding any and all changes to the project as a whole.

It’s also important to note that Revert only undoes a single commit, not any subsequent commits that may have followed that one. When using Git, that process is not reverting, but rather resetting, which is discussed below. The main reasons a user would choose the revert command over reset is that it will not alter the project history and that it also allows users to target a specific individual commit at any point the project and remove only it. This is much faster than undoing all of the commits that occurred after the one you are targeting and then re-adding those deleted ones back afterwards.

Git Reset

Git Reset is similar to the Git Revert command, only considered a little more dangerous. Unlike Revert, the Reset command undoes whatever changes you just made to a file but does not store a snap shot of the alterations before getting rid of it; think of it more like an undo that cannot be undone. Although Git Reset does come with risks, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its fair share of uses as well. Reset is a command with many functional purposes, including giving users the ability to remove previously committed snap shots from the record entirely and–more commonly–to undo changes in the staging area and, primarily, the working directory. Reset is intended for use only on a local level, however; once snap shots have been shared with other developers other than yourself, removing it from the record is not good practice when collaborating with an entire team.

If you’re already familiar with the basics behind Git but want to take your skills to the next level, try out a course on mastering Git, or for the very advanced, a Udemy course on mastering advanced Git techniqes.

 Git Clean

Lastly, there is the Git Clean command, which completely rids your project of any files that are not being tracked. Users can also find untracked files with the Git Status command and manually remove the ones that show up as being under that status, but Clean is a much simpler, faster method for doing so. Be forewarned, however, that much like the Reset command, there is no way to undo it once these untracked files are removed from a project. You will want to make sure that you have no desire to revisit the untracked files at any point before you run the Clean command.

If you find yourself interested in version control management and would like to learn more about Git as well as software development in general, check out this Udemy course in Change Management and Verison Control today.

Page Last Updated: May 2014

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