Why doesn’t everyone write good commit messages

This is what I think:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of time
  • The organization or coworkers doesn’t value good git history hygiene
  • Never learned to do it
  • Doesn’t see the value

Writing good commit messages is important

  • It forces you to really think about and understand your change which makes you a better developer
  • It makes reviewing your code easier which improves the quality of the code
  • It spreads knowledge. Someone may never know as much about this change that you do right now
  • It is documentation that doesn’t lie. A good investment for the future
  • It makes your git history easier to search with git log --grep and git log -S
  • It makes it easier to automatically generate a changelog
  • It can save tremendous amount of time for anyone trying to understand a piece of code

What should a commit message look like

# (50-character subject line)
# 72-character wrapped longer description. This should answer:
# * Why was this change necessary?
# * How does it address the problem?
# * Were there any alternative solutions that you thought about?

Tips for writing a good commit message

  • When writing the subject line say “If applied, this commit will…”. This will help you get the correct grammatical mood which forms a command or a request
  • Don’t use git commit -m as it don’t let you write more than one line. Without specifying -m git will open your text editor of choice for writing the message
  • Use a helpful commit message template git config --global commit.template ~/.gitmessage. Like the one above.
  • Use git config --global commit.verbose true option. It lets you see the diff which will help you when writing your commit message.
  • Think about the developers in your team. What questions would they have and try to answer them
  • If your commit is a bugfix write about the bug, when it happens and why.
  • If it’s a feature write about the process of implementing it
  • If it’s a refactor. Write why it improves code

Good reading materials