[Tech] Git Stash!

The process of cleaning up the mess which was created using command “git stash” turned out to be interesting learning about when the command needs to be used, when not to be used, what’s under the hood.

Earlier Understanding
Git stash can be used when one needs to save the local changes, but not commit and push the changes to the remote.

Let there be a developer named B.

B’s Assumption
Git pop returns the changes which are saved using git stash. So, on running ideally changes stashed on the current branch would return.

B has a task at hand. B was asked to implement a feature hence, code change involves modifying multiple files in the codebase. B decided to embark on the assigned task.
Updated the master branch. Created a new branch for implementing this completely new feature. Checked out the new branch. Started with the code.
In a nutshell

On branch master
git pull origin master
Created a new branch
git branch feature-x
Check out the new branch.
git checkout feature-x

Midway through the implementation. One bug comes up. The bug was directly impacting the business. Hence, had to be fixed as soon as possible.
B’s task priority got changed. Bug fix had to be completed and pushed.

To start working on the bug fix. B had to leave the changes done on feature-x branch midway. Changes were not tested. So, B was not interested in committing the changes either.

B decides to switch branch to master. Thinks of taking a fresh pull. Followed by creating a branch on which bug fix is to be resolved.

Switches branch from feature-x to master
git checkout master

Git raises an error, and B is not able to switch branch.

Git Error Message
You have uncommitted changes on this branch. Before switching the branch either commit or stash your changes. Otherwise, changes will be overwritten.

At this point in time. B has practically 2 choices in hand. Changes were not tested so B has decided not to commit. Here is when stash came into play.
1. Commit changes
2. Stash changes

Stashing the changes on branch feature-x
git stash

Changes got saved. B was able to switch to master branch. And proceed with working on the bug fix. Likewise, B got some ad-hoc tasks as well. Priority kept changing. To have every task separated. B continued creating separate branches, kept saving changes on every branch using git stash.

B finally got time to work on the initial feature, branch feature-x. B wanted to see the changes last made.

To see the changes last made on the feature-x branch. B runs
git stash pop
To check the list of modified files
git status

Unlikely to the expected behavior. Something got messed up.

The Mess
Instead of fetching modified files on branch feature-x. B got a list of files modified on the last branch B worked on and ran a git stash. Screwed.


git stash liststash@{0}: WIP on feature-a: 049d078 added X,Y,Z things
stash@{1}: WIP on bug-fix: c264051 added exception handling
stash@{2}: WIP on feature-x: 21d80a5 added A,B,C things

Running git stash pop. Would pop stash@{0} from the list. And return all the modified files. Hence, to get only the changes made on branch feature-x we can run

git stash pop stash@{2}

7. If we are interested in popping the stashes but maintaining the history log.
Instead of git stash pop.

git stash apply

Cleaning up our own mess. Comes up with learnings. Things go wrong for good. This marks no more living with the false assumption and two commands.



Honest, straight from the heart things. I care about, bother about, think about, I experience. I share them here. This has a purpose behind.

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Mridu Bhatnagar

Honest, straight from the heart things. I care about, bother about, think about, I experience. I share them here. This has a purpose behind.