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git part 5910

Filed under: Hacking — Thomas @ 3:18 pm

2010-12-1
3:18 pm

I still can’t get over how obtuse and error-prone git’s command line UI is.

Today I was trying really hard to checkout a tag of some project to try and fix a bug.

Are there tags ? Why, yes.


$ git tag -l
redland-bindings_0_9_17_1
redland-bindings_0_9_18_1
redland-bindings_0_9_19_1
redland-bindings_1_0_0_1
redland-bindings_1_0_0_2
redland-bindings_1_0_10_1
redland-bindings_1_0_1_1
redland-bindings_1_0_2_1
redland-bindings_1_0_3_1
redland-bindings_1_0_4_1
redland-bindings_1_0_5_1
redland-bindings_1_0_6_1
redland-bindings_1_0_7_1
redland-bindings_1_0_8_1
redland-bindings_license_lgpl_apache2
redland-bindings_license_lgpl_mpl
redland_bindings
start

Here are my attempts and its responses:


$ git checkout redland_bindings_1_0_7_1
error: pathspec 'redland_bindings_1_0_7_1' did not match any file(s) known to git.
$ git checkout -b redland_bindings_1_0_7_1 redland_bindings_1_0_7_1
fatal: git checkout: updating paths is incompatible with switching branches.
Did you intend to checkout 'redland_bindings_1_0_7_1' which can not be resolved as commit?

Can you spot my error ? It took me a good thirty minutes to figure out what exactly I was doing wrong. Git could have just told me. Suggestions to improve these obtuse error messages?

The first error suggests that git thinks I’m trying to check out a file. Strangely enough git checkout -h says:


usage: git checkout [options]
or: git checkout [options] [] -- ...

so why does it even think I’m trying to check out a file ? The usage suggests the only way to check out a file is to list them after — which I didn’t specify. Isn’t the more logical thing to assume I was trying to check out a branch ? And while on the subject, you have to somehow understand or assume that, even though a tag is not a branch, you can actually check out a tag this way.

Instead the error should probably say something like:


git doesn't know about a branch or tag named '...'
Check with git tag -l or git branch -a to see all tags and branches.
If you wanted to specify a file instead, use -- to separate branch or tag from file names.

Now the second one. I am sorry git that I crossed the flux capacitators to reverse the coagulation of the ninth-dimensional positrons. But could you please try and insult me in English ? All I can get from this message, *after* understanding what my problem was, is that you think I want to switch branches (is that the same as checking out a tag ? Maybe, how can I tell ?) at the same time as updating a path. I’m pretty sure I’m only trying to do one of those two things, although I’m not too sure. And I think the proper English for that second sentence would be something like

"Did you intend to checkout the tag or branch '...', which does not exist in the repository ?
Use git tag -l or git branch -a to see a list of tags and branches.

I can’t *wait* for the comments to pour in telling me I’m stupid because I can’t automatically read ‘cannot be resolved as a commit’ is gitese for ‘the tag does not exist’.

I’m only writing this post because git in this particular instance caused me to waste less time than average with obtuse UI, so I had some time to spare to complain.

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