Map TFVC actions to Git

Last Update: 1/25/2017

Git Version Control

Do you plan to adopt Git, are familiar with TFVC actions, and wondering how they map to Git? Both are powerful and mature source control systems, but mapping common actions you have grown accustomed to in the one to the other can be a confusing experience.

We will not delve deep into the Git commands, as they are well documented in the product documentation, but show examples to help you make the right decisions, while moving through a typical create -> clone -> branch -> change -> commit -> push workflow.

Start at the beginning by creating a new repo

Each Team project can host TFVC and Git repositories in the same team project, creating one TFVC, and one or more Git repositories.

Create a new Team Services Git Repository

Once the repo is created, you are presented with step-by-step instructions to quickly get started.

Get Started with a new Team Services Git Repository

Click on the `Create a ReadMe file' at the end of the instruction page, to give the repo context and to create some history.

Create a README to initialize a new Team Services Git repo

Create a workspace and get latest

When connecting to a TFVC repo for the first time, you typically create a workspace and get the latest code. so, how do you get started in Git?

Similar to a workspace in TFVC you clone the Git repository to a folder on your machine. Cloning will download all of the contents and history of the repository, to your local machine. Once you have the cloned repo nearly all operations are performed locally, allowing you to work disconnected from the server, giving you a speed and performance advantage, and a full backup of the centralized repository.

Command line: git clone

VS IDE: Team Explorer > Connect > right click on repository > Clone

Connect to a Team Services Git repo in Visual Studio

You only need to clone once per repo, but like TFVC workspaces, you can have multiple clones to isolate in-progress work. However, branching is typically a better way to isolate changes.

Create a branch

With Git you are always working in a branch and by default in the "master" branch. You are recommended to create multiple local branches, a process that takes seconds and allows you to seamlessly context switch between branches and work in isolation. Unlike TFVC branches, which are paths scoped, Git branches are repository scoped. They are lightweight, can be local only, or shared with others when you are ready to share your changes.

Consider branching if you need to work in isolation, need to suspend your work, focus on new features, or if you are planning to conduct a Git pull request.

As a TFVC user, repeat a few times:

  • Branching is recommended!
  • Git branching is inexpensive, fast, and powerful!
  • Git encourages you to use local branches.
  • Publish local branches to your centralized repository as needed.
  • Always verify your branch context before making changes.
  • Name the branch using a common convention such as users/alias/branchname for example: users/doris/newfeature

Create and switch to a local topic branch, named francis/demo-feature. It is good practice to run a git status first, to verify that you are on the right branch to start with.

Command line: git checkout -b francis/demo-feature

Creating a new Git branch from the Windows command line

VS IDE: Team Explorer > Branches > right click on branch > New Local Branch From...

Creating a new branch from Visual Studio Team Explorer

Make a change by adding files

Similar to the TFVC experience, new files in the working folder are not automatically part of the repository. You stage your new files with the git add command, which is synonymous to performing an add Items to Folder operation in TFVC.

Here's a sample project to try adding files to your repo.

Command line: git add <file> or git add --all

VS IDE: Team Explorer > Changes > Untracked Files > add individual files or add all

Viewing Tracked and Untracked Changes in Team Explorer

Using the pre-baked sample, you will have thirteen new files that have been included and staged in the local repository.

View pending changes

Wondering what changes are now sitting in your working environment? As before, the Git status command or the Changes view in the Visual Studio IDE will show changes in your working tree.

Command line: git status

Using Git Status to show staged changes

VS IDE: Team Explorer > Changes > Included Changes

Using Visual Studio Team Explorer to show staged changes

Checkin changes and commit locally

In TFVC you share your changes with a Check In, which sends your pending changes to the server. In Git, the process is a bit different. First, you commit to the local repository, creating a commit object (like a changeset), then you push to send those changes with the server.

You commit the changes to your local repository using git commit, which feels like doing a Checkin Pending Changes in TFVC. A key difference is that the git commit commits your changes to the local, not the remote repository.

Command line: git commit

VS IDE: Team Explorer > Changes > Commit

Creating a Git commit in Team Explorer

Checkin changes with the server/remote repo

First you need to publish your local francis/demo-feature branch to the remote server, which includes all committed changes.

Command line: git push --set-upstream origin francis/demo-feature

VS IDE: Team Explorer > Branches > right click on local branch > Publish Branch

Pushing a branch to remote with Team Explorer

To synchronize further updates in your local with the remote repository, you need to push your changes using git push. The recommended practise using the git command or the Visual Studio IDE is to:

  • fetch to download content and preview incoming changes from others.
  • pull to download and then merge changes from others.
  • push to share your local changes.

View history

To see the commit you just created you can review the local history.

Command line: git log --oneline for a compact, or git log for a detailed view

Using Git log to review branch history

As shown above, git log lists the author, email, date written and the commit SHA-1 checksum. As a TFVC user you may want to use the --stat option to include more information, such as file name and change statistics.

Alternatively you can retrieve a history view of the local repository in the Visual Studio IDE and of the centralized repository using Web Access.

Visual Studio IDE: Team Explorer > Branches | Changes | Sync > Actions > View History

Viewing History in Team Explorer

Web Access: CODE > History or CODE > Explorer > History

Viewing Branch history in Team Services

At this point you have successfully explored the create - clone -> branch -> change -> commit -> push workflow, based on common TVFC actions.

You also have the option of issuing a pull request, to publish and stage your changes on the server/remote repo at this point.

Other actions

Switch branches

When working with Git you do not change branches by switching to separate folders and locations on your machine. You simply change the context by doing a checkout, making the entire working directory match the selected branch or commit. Fast and simple!

Command line: git checkout <branch>

If you forgot what branches you have in your local repository, use git branch to list the default and known branches.

Keep in mind which branch you are working on! When you work with multiple branches in Git, you switch branches in place in the same working directory. Switching between branches is a very fast operation, and making sure you are on the right branch at all times is just good practice.

Get latest version

There are lots of reasons to want to get updates. For example, when coming back from a well deserved vacation, or needing to switch context to another project, you need to refresh your development machine with the latest version of the codebase.

Command line: git pull, or git fetch followed by git merge FETCH_HEAD

Always get the latest version and resolve merge conflicts locally.

Undo local changes

There may be a valid reason to revert all revisions you made in your local repository and reset your working environment to the latest version from the remote repository.

Command line: git reset --hard HEAD followed by git pull origin followed by git clean -xdf

The scenario is anonymous to doing a Get > Latest Version with the Overwrite writeable files that are not checked out and Overwrite all files if the local version matches the specified version options in TFVC.

Alternatively you can manually delete your local repo – after making a validated copy off course – and then clone the repository again.

This is by no means the end of actions and options available to Git users. Here are some useful reference sites for further reading:


What about sync?

"Does the Visual Studio IDE Commit and Sync not magically do all this?", you may be asking yourself.

Commit and sync in Team Explorer

With magic comes responsibility! Many users dislike the sync as it can sometimes mess up your local history and add a merge commit on top of your current commit. Once you are in a bad state, you have to revert to the command line as there is currently no reset support in the IDE.

Authors: Jesse Houwing, Martin Hinshelwood, Mike Fourie, and Willy Schaub

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