Thursday, April 1, 2010

Using xargs with git

Sometimes, when I'm working on a project, I'll create a bunch of new files and realize that I have a ton of untracked stuff that I need to add to my git repository. Since generally only use git on the command line, it would be painful to copy and paste all of the untracked file names from the output of git status into separate git add commands.

The two commands I have found handy for dealing with this situation are git ls-files and xargs.

If you run the command:
git ls-files -o
It will show you all of the untracked files in your working directory, one file per line. A problem that you will run into here is that it also shows files in your .gitignore. To get around this issue, you just need another argument to specify your .gitignore:
git ls-files -o --exclude-per-directory=.gitignore
Now that you have all of the files you want to add, you just need to run git add on all of them. This is where xargs comes in handy. It will read from standard in, break it up on line endings and then feed each line as an argument into another command. Putting it all together, you get:
git ls-files -o --exclude-per-directory=.gitignore | xargs git add
That last command will add any untracked files to your git repository. The beautiful thing here is that we can also leverage some UNIX-y goodness if we want to as well. Let's say we're working on a project and we only want to commit some XSLT we have been working on. You can do this by throwing grep into the command chain:
git ls-files -o --exclude-per-directory=.gitignore | grep xslt | xargs git add
This will only add files that contain "xslt" in their names. This same approach comes in handy when you remove files from your working copy but forget to run git rm.