Git Remote Branch Example

1. Introduction

Git is an open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to large projects with speed and efficiency. Three-tree architecture is the key concept. Here are the three trees:

  • Repository tree – The place to store the committed files. It can be local or remote. The remote repository is used to track the same project but is stored somewhere else.
  • Working tree – The tree of actual files that you are currently working on. It normally contains the check out files and any local changes that you have made but not yet committed.
  • Staging index tree – It acts as an interface between a repository and a working tree. It prepares the committing files.

Figure 1 GIT Repositories

This diagram shows my open source project – Deadlock-demo‘s local and remote repositories.

In this example, I will demonstrate how to manage remote branches via EGit.

2. Technologies and Tools Used

  • Java 1.8.101 (1.8.x will do fine)
  • Maven 3.3.9 (3.3.x will do fine)
  • Eclipse Mars (Any Java IDE would work)
  • Git 2.16.*

3. Use Cases

Deadlock-Demo is my open source project hosted in GitHub at It has a default master branch. In this example, I created two remote branches from the master:

EGit is the Git integration for the Eclipse IDE. Click here for more details. I will demonstrate below use cases with EGit:

  1. Clone the master branch to a local repository.
  2. Modify the working files and then push the changes to the remote master branch.
  3. Switch the working files to Branch-Bug101-Mary and push the changes to the remote Branch-Bug101-Mary.
  4. Repeat step 3 for Branch-Bug101-Alex.
  5. Merge the changes from Branch-Bug101-Mary to Branch-Bug101-Alex and push the changes to the remote Branch-Bug101-Alex.

4. Clone from a Remote Repository

In this step, I will clone the source codes from a master branch via EGit:

  1. Click Window->Perspective ->Open Perspective ->Other…->Git to switch to Git perspective.
  2. In Git perspective window, click the cloning icon to clone from a remote repository.
  3. Enter the remote repository data as the screenshot below (replace the login with your credentials) and then click Next button.

    Figure 2 Git Clone
  4. Check all three remote branches, and then click the Next button.

    Figure 3 Clone – Branch
  5. Set the local repository location; leave all others as the default value. Click Finish.

    Figure 4 Clone – Local Repo
  6. You can expand the Remote Tracking folder to list the remote repositories.

    Figure 5 Cloned

5. Modify and Commit the Changes

In this step, I will show you how to modify, commit, and push the changes to the remote repository.

  1. In Git Perspective, right-click the Deadlock-Demo project and select Import Projects...

    Figure 6 Import
  2. Modify the source files and save the changes.
  3. Select Deadlock-Demo, right-click to select Team->Commit…
  4. Drag and drop the files from Unstaged Changes to Staged Changes.
    Figure 7 Modified

    Figure 8 Staged
  5. Click the Commit and Push button and click OK to confirm.

    Figure 9 Commit
  6. Verify by checking the GitHub repository.

    Figure 10 Verify from GitHub

6. Switch to a Different Branch

EGit provides an easy way to switch to a different branch. In this step, I will show you how to switch to a different branch.

First, you select the Deadlock-Demo project. Then right-click and select Team->Switch to->New Branch…

Select Branch-Bug101-Maryand then click Finish.

Figure 11 Switch to ok

Modify the source codes, save them, and follow step 5 to commit to the remote branch.

Repeat these steps for Branch-Bug101-Alex.

7. Merge between Branches

In this step, I will demonstrate how to merge the changes from Branch-Bug101-Mary to Branch-Bug101-Alex.

First, follow step 5 to switch to Branch-Bug101-Alex. Select it and right-click Team->Merge…

Select the source Branch-Bug101-Mary, leave others as the default value, and then click Merge.

It will pop a new window for merge results.

Figure 12 Merge 1

It pops out a new window for the merge result.

Figure 13 Merged OK

After you merge, you will see that there is an up arrow with a number 2 right next to the project. It indicates that there are two commits that can be pushed to upstream.

Figure 14 Merged

Select Branch-Bug101-Alex, right-click Team->Push to Upstream.

Figure 15 Pushed

8. Summary

In this example, I showed how to clone a project from a remote repository, then update them and commit the changes back to the remote repository. I also demonstrated how to switch to a different branch and how to merge the changes between two branches via EGit. These steps are part of a Git branching workflow.

Mary Zheng

Mary has graduated from Mechanical Engineering department at ShangHai JiaoTong University. She also holds a Master degree in Computer Science from Webster University. During her studies she has been involved with a large number of projects ranging from programming and software engineering. She works as a senior Software Engineer in the telecommunications sector where she acts as a leader and works with others to design, implement, and monitor the software solution.
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