Pull Request (PR) Cheat Sheet

Pull Request (PR) Cheat Sheet.

Pull Request (PR) Cheat Sheet

Savoir-vivre of pull requests

Patches for fixes, features, and improvements are accepted through pull requests. Here are some tips for contributing:

  • Add Git Commit Signing to your local git install and to GitHub. Here are the config instructions.
  • Write good commit messages in the present tense (“Add X”, not “Added X”) with a short title, blank line, and bullet points if needed. Capitalize the first letter of the title and any bullet items. No punctuation in the title.
  • Include tests to improve coverage and prevent regressions.
  • Squash changes into a single commit per feature/fix. Typical steps to do that are:
    • git rebase -i HEAD~3 (the number depends on the number of commits you are squashing)
    • git push -u origin master –force (master might not be the branch you are pushing to so make sure to change to the branch)
  • Whenever possible, tag your pull request with appropriate Github labels and issue numbers.

Important: For any breaking changes that require a major version bump, add BREAKING CHANGE somewhere in the commit title or message.


  • Branch - series of commits
  • Clone - create a local copy of a repo
  • Commit - change to the repo
  • Downstream - this would be your repository that is forked from an Ortelius repo sbtaylor15/ortelius-docs
  • Fetch - sync a repo with another
  • Fork - your copy of the upstream repo
  • Local Repo - a repo on your computer
  • Pull - get changes from GitHub into your local repo
  • Pull Request (PR) - changes to be merged from one repo to another repo
  • Push - send your changes to GitHub
  • Rebase - rewrite commit history
  • Remote Repo - a repo on GitHub
  • Squash - combining multiple commits into one
  • Upstream - this would be an Ortelius repository ortelius/ortelius-docs

Working scenarios

We want to update the User Guide that is in the ortelius/ortelius-docs repo.

First pull request

  1. Fork the Ortelius repo In GitHub click on the Fork button for the repo you want to make a copy of, i.e. ortelius/ortelius-docs. The fork will be created under your userid as sbtaylor15/ortelius-docs.

  2. Make a local copy of your repo sbtaylor15/ortelius-docs. The url for the repo is under the Code button in GitHub for your repo.

    From a command prompt, cd /home/steve/repos

    Run git clone https://github.com/sbtaylor15/ortelius-docs.git this will create /home/steve/repos/ortelius-docs

  3. Tell your local repo about the upstream and downstream repos (this only needs to be done once)

    By this tep you will create upstream and downstream local variables which contain address of source and your forked repos. You can use them as parameters of git key word.

    git remote add upstream https://github.com/ortelius/ortelius-docs.git
    git remote add downstream  https://github.com/Javailabe/ortelius-docs.git

    upstream holds https://github.com/ortelius/ortelius-docs.git

    downstream holds https://github.com/Javailabe/ortelius-docs.git (that is forked repo of Javailabe user)

  4. Make a branch for your work

    cd /home/steve/repos/ortelius-docs
    git checkout -b maintenance

    maintenance will be your branch name

  5. Make some changes

    Update the files and commit the changes back to your local branch

    git add .
    git commit -m "changed some files"

    Do this as many time that you want.

  6. Squash before merge

    We need to collapse all of our little changes into one. This will make merging much easier.

    git checkout master
    git log --oneline -1

    Grab the commit sha (hex number), i.e. d34bf46

    git checkout -b maintenance
    git rebase -i d34bf46

    You will be placed into an editor with a line for each commit. The first column will say pick. Change pick to squash from line 2 to the end of the list. Save and quit the file.

    You will jump back to the command prompt for a bit while git does it work. The editor will pop up again. This is the comment for the squashed commit. All of the comments from the little commit are listed. Delete all of the lines and add a single line describing your changes.

    If you run git log --oneline you should see that there is only one new commit.

  7. Update GitHub forked repo with your local changes

    We can backup changes to GitHub at anytime without effecting anyone else.

    git push downstream

    This syncs forked GitHub repo with your local branch. Basically, you are overriding GitHub.

  8. Create your Pull Request

    In GitHub, go to the upstream repo and do a new pull request. Choose compare across forks. Select your fork and master branch.

  9. After the PR has been merged you need to bring your repo in sync with upstream since it has new commits

    git checkout master
    git fetch upstream
    git rebase upstream/master

Daily regime

  1. Sync your local repo

    git pull upstream
    git push downstream

    This will download the latest version of the upstream to your local repo and after push it will update (override) your forked GitHub repo

  2. Make changes

    a) in case of multiple small commits it might be necessary to squash them all

  3. Update GitHub forked repo with your local changes

    git push downstream
  4. Create your Pull Request

  5. After PR merging, sync your repos (step 1)