Chapter 12: Hello git

In this chapter, we’ll step away from Python and the notebook to introduce another important tool: git.

Git is a command-line tool that tracks changes in files and makes it easier to collaborate with our programmers. It is widely used in open-source software and by most professional software development teams.

It will allow us to edit and delete our code without fear of losing past work. Ultimately it will enable us to publish our notebook for the entire world to read and remix.

Creating a new repository

The first step in working with git is to convert a directory on your computer into a repository that will have its contents tracked going forward.

You do that by returning to your terminal. If your notebook server is running, hit the CTRL-C key combination to return the standard command line. Then entering the following:

$ git init .

That will instruct git to initialize a new repository in your current folder, which is represented by the period.

If this is your first time using git, you should configure git with your name and email. This will ensure that your work is properly logged by the respository’s history file. Like the init command above, this is something that only needs to be done once.

$ git config --global "[email protected]"
$ git config --global "your name"


If you followed along with our git configuration instructions in the prerequisites, you should have done this already. But it wouldn’t hurt anything to do it again either.

Committing your work

Now you’re ready to start logging your work. Changes to you code are logged by git in batches known as “commits.”

It is not required but a good first step before committing any work is to run git’s status command, which will output the current state of your repository.

git status

Since your repository is brand new, all of the files will be listed as “untracked.” That means that while git sees that these files exist it is not monitoring them for changes.

The first step in logging your work is to ask git to start tracking your files using the add command.

In this repository, the only file we need to track are your notebooks. You can add all of them by running the command below, which uses the “wildcard” asterisk to start tracking all files with the notebook extension.

$ git add *.ipynb


The add command isn’t only for when you are adding new files to your repository. You should run it each time a file has been changed and you’d like to commit the work.

Run the status command again and you’ll see something different. That’s git telling you that the notebooks in your repository have been staged and are ready to commit.

git status

Log its addition with git’s commit command. You must include a personalized message, which you can provide along with the command by adding on the -m flag along with a description of the work you’ve done.

$ git commit -m "First commit"

That’s it. You’ve made your first git commit.


There’s no rule about when to commit your work, but disciplined developers get in the habit of doing it frequently. Whenever you’ve reached a small milestone or a breaking point in your work, it’s a good idea to make a commit.

To get some practice, save a change to your notebook and try to log another.

It might seen a little burdensome at first, but it is correct to run the status, add and commit commands each time. Take it slowly and carefully. You’ll quickly get the hang of it.