[git] "git pull" or "git merge" between master and development branches

I have my master branch and a develop branch for working on a few changes. I need to merge changes from master into develop, but will eventually merge everything from develop into master. I have two different workflows in mind:

  1. git pull origin master into develop branch
  2. git merge master into develop branch

Which is the best way to do this, and why?

This question is related to git workflow

The answer is


my rule of thumb is:

rebase for branches with the same name, merge otherwise.

examples for same names would be master, origin/master and otherRemote/master.

if develop exists only in the local repository, and it is always based on a recent origin/master commit, you should call it master, and work there directly. it simplifies your life, and presents things as they actually are: you are directly developing on the master branch.

if develop is shared, it should not be rebased on master, just merged back into it with --no-ff. you are developing on develop. master and develop have different names, because we want them to be different things, and stay separate. do not make them same with rebase.


The best approach for this sort of thing is probably git rebase. It allows you to pull changes from master into your development branch, but leave all of your development work "on top of" (later in the commit log) the stuff from master. When your new work is complete, the merge back to master is then very straightforward.


This workflow works best for me:

git checkout -b develop

...make some changes...

...notice master has been updated...

...commit changes to develop...

git checkout master
git pull

...bring those changes back into develop...

git checkout develop
git rebase master

...make some more changes...

...commit them to develop...

...merge them into master...

git checkout master
git pull
git merge develop

If you are not sharing develop branch with anybody, then I would just rebase it every time master updated, that way you will not have merge commits all over your history once you will merge develop back into master. Workflow in this case would be as follows:

> git clone git://<remote_repo_path>/ <local_repo>
> cd <local_repo>
> git checkout -b develop
....do a lot of work on develop
....do all the commits
> git pull origin master
> git rebase master develop

Above steps will ensure that your develop branch will be always on top of the latest changes from the master branch. Once you are done with develop branch and it's rebased to the latest changes on master you can just merge it back:

> git checkout -b master
> git merge develop
> git branch -d develop