Git switch is a powerful tool designed to streamline branch switching in Git workflows. By using the “git switch” command, developers can effortlessly navigate between branches with enhanced clarity. This command, introduced in Git 2.23, stands out as a more straightforward and safer alternative to its predecessor, git checkout.

Exploring git switch reveals its focus on branch operations. Unlike “git checkout”, which has broader applications, “git switch” is dedicated solely to branch switching, emphasizing a concise and intuitive syntax.

Now, let’s delve into the disparities between ‘git switch’ and ‘git checkout’ to better understand their distinct roles.

Git Switch Vs. Checkout

Understanding the differences between ‘git switch’ and ‘git checkout’ is crucial. While both commands serve to change branches and create new ones, git switch is tailored specifically for branch switching. In contrast, git checkout is a more versatile command with additional capabilities, such as creating branches and discarding changes.

To switch branches using git switch, developers can simply execute:

git switch <branch_name>

This command’s brevity and focus on branch switching make it the preferred option in modern Git workflows. It’s crucial to note that when using git switch, pending changes in the working directory require either committing or stashing before a clean branch switch.

On the flip side, git checkout, despite its versatility, has somewhat fallen out of favor for branch switching. Nevertheless, it continues to be widely employed and remains relevant, especially in older Git workflows.

Anyway, Developers interested in learning more about ‘git checkout’ can utilize:

git checkout --help

Now, let’s explore practical examples employing both of these commands.

Illustrative Examples and Best Practices

Illustrative examples can shed light on the practical use of both commands. When using ‘git switch’, the fundamental syntax is:

git switch [BRANCH-NAME]

In this instance, I will opt for a different branch by utilizing the ‘switch’ command.

git switch design

It will display the CLI changes as shown below.

Git Switch Branch

However, should I switch to a non-existing branch, it will prompt an error as illustrated below.

git switch non-existing branch

If you intend to switch to another non-existing branch using this command, you need to include the ‘-c’ flag along with the command, as demonstrated below.

git switch -c [BRANCH-NAME]

The ‘-c’ flag, shorthand for ‘–create’, performs dual functions: adding a new branch and switching to it simultaneously.

An alternative approach to choosing an existing branch in the stack is through ‘git checkout.’ It involves appending a string, representing the branch name, alongside the command.

git checkout [BRANCH-NAME]

Let’s see an example.

git checkout developer

However, if the branch name does not exist in the repository, an error will be displayed as depicted in the image below.

git checkout non-existing branch

On the other hand, there’s a method to both add a branch if it doesn’t exist and move the current cursor into the new branch simultaneously. Simply include the ‘-b’ flag alongside the checkout command, as illustrated in the example below.

git checkout -b team

The ‘-b’ flag, denoting ‘branch,’ will create a new branch in the repository if it does not already exist in the current repository.

After executing the above command, a message will be displayed, as shown below.

Switched to a new branch 'team'

As you’re aware, a Git branch comprises numerous commits and refs, facilitating backward navigation as needed. But what if you wish to switch to another branch and create it at a specific point, assuming it doesn’t exist? This is where the ‘git checkout’ command comes into play. Let’s delve into it.

Switching to Another Branch at a Specific Point using Checkout

Completing this task is uncomplicated using the ‘git checkout‘ command, but it requires supplying additional arguments in the command-line interface (CLI). Now, let’s scrutinize the fundamental syntax of the ‘git checkout’ command for creating a new branch at a particular point.

git checkout -B [BRANCH-NAME] [COMMIT-POINT]

However, before proceeding, it’s essential to determine the specific point number that you intend to use in the command to initiate the new branch.

This can be accomplished by employing the following Git command.

git log --oneline

Upon executing this command, it will display all references and commits, similar to the image below.

Git Log Command

In the next step, you need to choose the specific point to switch to another branch. For instance, I will use ‘564771c’ as the starting point.

git checkout -B codedtag 564771c

Executing this command will create a new branch starting from the specified point, “564771c”.

Regardless, these two commands, checkout and switch, guide us towards understanding their distinctions.

Let’s summarize it.

Wrapping Up

the introduction of the “git switch” command in Git 2.23 marks a significant advancement in branch switching within Git workflows. Its dedicated focus on branch operations, as opposed to the more versatile “git checkout,” provides developers with a streamlined and safer alternative.

The comparison between ‘git switch’ and ‘git checkout’ has elucidated their distinct roles. While both commands facilitate branch switching, ‘git switch’ stands out for its simplicity and clarity. Its concise syntax, exemplified by ‘git switch <branch_name>’, aligns with modern Git workflows, making it a preferred choice. On the other hand, ‘git checkout’ retains its relevance in older workflows due to its broader capabilities, such as creating branches and discarding changes.

Practical examples further illustrate the usage of both commands. The brevity of ‘git switch [BRANCH-NAME]’ for branch switching, coupled with its emphasis on clean workflows, has become a hallmark in Git practices. Developers can explore additional features of ‘git checkout’ by referencing ‘git checkout –help,’ which provides insights into its versatile functionalities.

Examining specific use cases, illustrated with examples, reinforces the effectiveness of each command. The ‘-c’ flag in ‘git switch’ and the ‘-b’ flag in ‘git checkout’ showcase their ability to create and switch to new branches simultaneously. Moreover, the exploration of transitioning to another branch at a specific commit point highlights the flexibility of ‘git checkout’ in handling such scenarios.