GUIDE 2022

How to Incorporate GIT in Your Agile Workflow

Wondering how to incorporate GIT in your agile workflow?

Thousands of companies utilize Git to handle small and large projects alike. It’s one of the most popular tools to track file changes and foster coordination among programmers. 

What makes it attractive is its support for non-linear workflows of a distributed nature, making it ideal for agile workflows.

In this article, we go over the Git flow workflow and how agile teams integrate Git into their agile workflow with success.

Let’s get started. 

What is the Git Flow Workflow 

Git is an open-source distributed version control system, whose original author is the creator of the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds. 

Visual of a Git Model

Credits: NVIE.com

There are three main states of files in Git. These are: 

  • Modified Files: Changed files that the team hasn’t committed. 
  • Staged Files: A current version of a modified file that the team has marked for inclusion in the upcoming commit. 
  • Committed Files: Saved files in your local database. 

There are three basic terms that are synonymous with Gi and are integral in understanding the state of files in GIT: 

  • Repository: This refers to the storage location of your code. You find the repository in a folder on your machine. 
  • Branches: Branches are subfolders that store new code before moving it to the main Repository. You create a default Main Branch when you add the first code to the Repository. 
  • Commits: Commits are the different code versions in the branches that store your code. Every single commit is a specific version of the code. 

For the Git workflow, there are five branch types: 

  • Main 
  • Develop 
  • Feature 
  • Release
  • Hotfix

The last three are supporting branches. 

1. Main Branch 

The main branch, also known as the master branch, contains production-ready code that is ready for release.

When you start a project, the creation of the main branch is automatic. However, you have to maintain it through different commits during the development process. This helps make sure you differentiate between different code versions.

Any other branches in the workflow merge with the main branch after sufficient automated testing. 

2. Develop Branch 

Similar to the main branch, the develop branch also starts at beginning of a project. The agile team maintains it throughout the project.

It includes pre-production code which houses new features that are in the testing process.

Every new feature has to go to the develop branch before merging when it’s ready for testing.

After the develop branch, the Git agile development workflow includes three supporting Git branches. Every other branch has a specific purpose. 

3. Feature Branch 

Every time you add a new feature to the code, you need the feature branch. It’s the one branch that is most common other than the main branch.

Each new branch stems off the develop branch as a new feature goes under development. When the development team completes the automated tests, they merge the changes in the develop branch. 

4. Release Branch 

The release branch comes into play every time you prepare for product releases. This includes the product teams and quality assurance teams who manage minor bugs and add necessary finishing touches. 

5. Hotfix Branch 

Hotfix branches are quick changes to the main branch. That’s why these branches merge into the main and develop branches.

It helps fix critical issues in the main branch that are causing end-user issues. 

6 Steps to Integrate Git In Your Agile Workflow 

The following six steps simplify how you integrate Git into your agile workflow for more productive software development.

 

  • Develop and Main Branches: There are two main branches in the local repository. The main branch contains working versions of clean code. Tag all commits with version numbers. For the develop branch, merging with the main branch starts the interaction flow. In the case of direct commits, both branches need blocking. 
  • Create a Feature Branch: For each ‘to-do’ task, you create a feature branch. These feed into the develop branch and never into the main branch. 
  • Work on the Feature Branch: Start the implementation of the task development process on the feature branch. As you complete each task, push it to the server. 
  • Review the Feature Branch: Once you push the task to the server, a team member has to create a new Pull Request or Merge Request for code reviews. 
  • Approve the Feature Branch: After task review, the team member approves the request. If there’s no approval, the reviewer requests improvements or changes. 
  • Merge the Feature Branch and Finish – After approval, the team merges the feature branch into the develop branch and the feature branch gets deleted. 

With these six steps, make sure you follow these rules: 

    • Avoid working on the master branch 
    • Run tests before the new commit message and after the pull requests 
    • Don’t commit to any merge if you pull the master branch 
    • Describe any feature you want to add to Issues 
  • Git rebase origin/master feature branches to the master branch 

Another thing that helps is to practice shorter release cycles so your main branch is always green. That way, your feature work makes it into future releases. 

Three Tips to Ensure Integration Success 

As software developers, your job is to ensure quick success with user stories. Each user story, regardless of being a small unit, requires an isolated version of the code to add to the next release.

Git plays an important role in helping product teams and other developers do this right. Here are three tips to maximize your success. 

1. Start Considering Tasks as Git Branches 

In agile feature development, all the relevant teams hold a feature kick-off meeting. This helps get a shared understanding of the feature requirements, project scope, and the tasks for completion.

The scrum approach includes giving each task to individual developers. Meanwhile, the product owner manages the product backlog that has all the tasks.

At this point, Git comes in as you create a new branch for every new issue/feature. Each developer has their own isolated version of the code because multiple branches are active at all times. 

2. Test Each Individual Branch 

Git allows agile teams to set up automated tests for code reviews for continuous integration. Developers notify team members when branch work is ready for review through a pull request.

This makes the merging of the feature branch into the develop and main branch faster. With the right tools, the automated server builds and test pull requests before merging.

This makes it easier to fix bugs and issues, in general. 

3. Better Quality and Transparency Through Git 

After merging a feature branch into the main branch, your agile workflow ends. When you merge code through pull requests, you’re confident that your work is greenlit.

That’s because your team members peer review it, make relevant changes, and then push it for release.

Keep in mind that Git plays a key role in making your agile development more efficient. It adds automation, easy testing, and better agility. 

GIT in Agile Workflow: Final Thoughts

Before your next sprint, think about the things that have the potential to make the process more efficient. Integrating Git into your agile workflow is one thing that allows for quicker version releases.

If you continue to automate the sprints and make them more efficient, you reach a point where typical bug fixes and issues are no longer a big deal.

This way, you save maintenance costs, reduce the time it takes to resolve issues, and increase the confidence of your team members. 

Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the co-founder of Product HQ, founder of Technical Writer HQ, and founder and head of product of Squibler. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.