Home 9 Daniel Zacharias 9 Mastering Git Hooks: A Guide to Automating Tasks in Web Development

Mastering Git Hooks: A Guide to Automating Tasks in Web Development

The principle behind these Git Hooks is quite simple: Whenever an event occurs, they perform predefined actions differently. Working with Git Hooks, you'll get yourself familiar with something called a pre-commit hook — a hook that's used to automate tasks like code linting or running unit tests. Similarly, the post-receive hook runs once refs have been updated on the server side. It's especially handy for notifications or instantly deploying code to the production environment. Here's what they look like in action!
Daniel Zacharias

Daniel Zacharias

August 3, 2023
git hooks

Git Hooks, despite being extremely helpful, tend to be surrounded by mysteries and theories. From my own experience, many developers see them as something complex or prone to causing unexpected and hard-to-fix issues.

While it’s true that they seem intimidating at first glance due to their unfamiliarity, the reality is much simpler — Git Hooks provide an incredibly powerful means of automating tasks inside your development flow which makes them an essential part of modern web development processes. They improve code quality while streamlining various operations in a way that helps avoid time-consuming issues before they even happen!

Git Hooks explained: Principles and role in task automation

Git Hooks are essentially automated scripts that get triggered by certain events from within your git workflow, such as commit, push, or when you receive data. They reside in each .git/Hooks directory and exist independently on every local git repo.

The principle behind these Git Hooks is quite simple: Whenever an event occurs, they perform predefined actions differently. 

Working with Git Hooks, you’ll get yourself familiar with something called a pre-commit hook — a hook that’s used to automate tasks like code linting or running unit tests. Similarly, the post-receive hook runs once refs have been updated on the server side. It’s especially handy for notifications or instantly deploying code to the production environment.

Here’s what they look like in action:

#!/bin/sh

# This is a simple pre-commit hook that checks for any console.log statements in JavaScript files

FILES_PATTERN=’\.(js|jsx)$’

FORBIDDEN=’console.log’

git diff –cached –name-only | \

  grep -E $FILES_PATTERN | \

  GREP_COLOR=’4;5;37;41′ xargs grep –color –with-filename -n $FORBIDDEN && echo ‘COMMIT REJECTED Found “$FORBIDDEN” references. Please remove them before committing.’ && exit 1

exit 0

Not so mystical after all, huh? 

This kind of hook checks for any console.log statements in JavaScript files that are about to be committed. If it finds any, the commit is rejected, and the developer gets a message, prompting them to remove those statements.

Why use Git Hooks?

One of the great things you’ll find about Hooks as a Git developer is their effects on the development workflow. I remember my first time working with Git Hooks — It was one of those Oh-WOW moments in my development cycle. If you start using them, you’ll quickly realize why: Hooks offer plenty of advantages!

These are some of the benefits you’ll also notice:

  • Improved workflow efficiency — Automating repetitive tasks with Git Hooks will drastically reduce development time. They take care of mundane activities like formatting code, updating issue trackers, and even deploying directly into production, which simplifies your dev process in a big way.
  • Enhanced code quality —  With automated linting and testing built-in, you’re sure that only working pieces will make their way onto the repo. This guarantees high standards for each code piece submitted as part of version control.
  • Automated testing and linting —  Git Hooks automatically run tests and lint code before every commit or push. Think of it as a fail-safe check before any existing functionality is affected. 

Did you ask for a bonus code? 

Check out this FREE example pre-commit hook running automated tests so you have some inspiration when creating yours!

#!/bin/sh

# This is a pre-commit hook that runs tests before a commit

echo “Running tests…”

# Run the tests

npm test

# Check if tests were successful

if [ $? -ne 0 ]; then

 echo “Tests failed! Commit aborted.”

 exit 1

fi

echo “Tests passed. Proceeding with a commit.”

exit 0

The hook runs tests using the npm test before every commit. If the tests fail, the commit is aborted, preventing potentially problematic code from being committed. If the tests pass, the commit proceeds as usual. This kind of automated testing means that every code you commit is 100% functional!

The dangers of Git Hooks: Common mistakes and how to steer clear

Git Hooks are indeed mighty once you get the hang of them (pun intended!). However, some potential hazards need to be avoided. 

Throughout my web dev journey, I’ve come across a few overused blunders: 

  • Misuse and overreliance on Hooks —  Sure, they’re effective, but oftentimes we tend to use them incorrectly. When we depend too heavily on Hooks, our workflows become convoluted, making it hard to both comprehend and keep up with development goals.
  • Hooks should be used carefully —  When it comes to automating tasks, Hooks should be used selectively. That means you should only use them when a task is actually repetitive and necessary – not as an all-encompassing solution for every problem you face.
  • Ignoring Hook compatibility —  It’s important to keep in mind that Git Hooks are scripts that work differently on different operating systems like Windows or Linux/macOS. So, if you decide to use them, make sure they’re applicable across OSs; otherwise, your automation plans sink like Titanic!

Your roadmap to Git Hooks: A step-by-step guide to implementation

I’ll be honest — when I was first getting started with Git Hooks, it felt like I was in the middle of a thick jungle. No roadmap whatsoever! But you don’t have to go through that same experience. With my step-by-step guide on how to use Git Hooks, you’ll become an expert user quickly and easily!

Here’s what your journey will look like:

  1. Defining your Git Hook — Your Git Hooks are stored within the .git/hooks directory inside of your repository. This folder has some samples of Hooks that you can use to get going. To make a new Hook, just add another file to this directory. So if you want to create a pre-push Hook, the name should be ‘pre-push’. Easy enough, right?
  2. Setting up the Hook — You also have to set it so your script does what it needs to do. This requires coding in whatever language works best for command line running (time for some CLI practice!).
  3. Making the script executable — To complete your desired tasks, you need to make sure that your script is executable. That means using the chmod +x .git/hooks/pre-push command (remember to replace pre-push with whatever Hook you’re trying out).

The last word on Git Hooks

Git Hooks are a game-changer for web developers looking to increase workflow efficiency and enhance code quality while adding customization options.

But beware! Wrongly handled Git Hooks might cause detriment instead of benefit when it comes down to your development workflows.

As you progress in this field, exploring what Git Hooks have in store can really open up some new dimensions, something I know from first-hand experience! They bring increased organization and structure as well as better code standards which contribute heavily towards a more streamlined project process.

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