Vijay Singh Khatri | 09 Aug, 2023

How to Learn Git? A Complete Beginner's Guide


One of the most important tools you need in your arsenal as a developer is a version control system or VCS. Git is a preferred choice among developers worldwide, one of the most popular version control systems - alongside CVS (Concurrent Versions System), Mercurial, and SVN (Apache Subversion).

Git is an open-source tool, which means it is completely free to use and can also be tweaked to meet specific requirements. Also, it comes loaded with a wide array of features that aims to streamline the workflow of projects and, at the same time, enables collaboration among individual developers as well as teams.

Whether you are a beginner with little to no idea of version control systems or a professional who wants to switch to Git, we must say that you have made the right choice. Git is easy to learn and use, but it is also a skill that is quite a in demand.

In this comprehensive guide, we will talk about Git in detail and shed light on everything that will come in handy for you to get familiar with this immensely popular version control system.

So, let’s get started without further ado.

What is Git?

Git is a version control system that allows you to track all the changes made to a file. To be more specific, Git makes it possible for you to monitor all the project files, including text files and code files, with utter ease.

The most important feature of Git that makes it highly popular is its ability to create multiple versions of a single file. Also, you can revert to any version you want and, thus, make sure that you never mess up with your app’s code.

For instance, let’s say you have created an app with some features, and it is working fine. Now, you introduced another feature to the app, but somehow, while making changes to the code files, you have made some mistakes that resulted in the whole app crashing, and you cannot identify the issue. Else, you added the feature, and now you no longer need it and want to remove it.

In both cases, without a version control system like Git, you would have to manually identify the changes that you have made and undo them. Doing things this way would not guarantee that you will track all the changes with a hundred percent accuracy, and also, a lot of your precious time is lost.

With Git, you can easily revert the code of the whole app to some previous state with just a few clicks. Also, having a version control system by your side will give you the flexibility to experiment with your code without worrying about breaking (the functionality of) your application.

Now, there’s one important thing that needs your attention, especially if you are new to coding, and that is the difference between Git and GitHub. Often, many individuals are perplexed whether both of them are the same or have some dissimilarities. Well, if that’s also the case with you, don’t worry, we will help you clear this doubt.

Git is a version control system that allows tracking the changes you make within a project’s files. On the other hand, GitHub is a Git repository hosting service that allows storing your projects and shares them easily with other people.

While Git makes it possible to track projects locally, GitHub allows multiple individuals to collaborate on those projects. In a nutshell, GitHub enhances the functionality of Git and allows several individuals to collaborate on the same project by creating different Git Branches.

Also, GitHub makes real-time collaboration feasible that helps cut down the overall development time, and enables remote teams to work more productively.

Additionally, you may be interested to know that there are several other popular Git repository hosting services that you can choose in place of GitHub, such as GitLab, BitBucket, GitBucket, and SourceForge.

Why Should You Learn Git?

Git is undoubtedly the most used version control system trusted worldwide by both individual developers and organizations. Today, knowing Git is essential for growing as a developer and landing your dream job.

However, if you are still unsure whether learning Git would be a good idea or not, take a look at the key advantages that Git has to offer. But before discussing them, we need to make it clear that the decision to learn Git should be completely yours. There are many other version control systems that you can go for, or you can even learn multiple VCSs.

Considering you’ve made the call, let’s discuss the primary advantages that you will get by adopting Git to manage your projects:

  • Widespread Popularity

When it comes to popularity, Git beats every other version control system out there. For any individual to grow their career in software or web development, Git has become an essential skill. Most businesses consider Git the go-to choice for tracking changes in the code files and enabling version control from startups to large enterprises.

Due to the extensive popularity of Git, it has become a must-have requirement for most job roles in software and web development. Having hands-on experience with Git can help you get a high-paying job.

  • Ease of Use

It is yet another significant reason for professionals to choose Git as their preferred VCS. While many individuals believe that learning Git is tricky because of the huge list of commands required to operate it, the reality is quite different. Yes, there are indeed several git commands, but the usual usage of Git only requires you to use only a few of them.

In all, getting familiar with Git and its features is not demanding at all. You can easily learn how to use Git for monitoring all the changes made to the source code of your projects. Also, once you start working with Git, you’ll notice how you can make the most out of it with just a few simple commands.

  • Free and Open-Source

One of the best things about Git is that it is free and open-source. Git VCS is available under the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2), which simply means that you do not need to pay even a single penny to use it.

Additionally, the source code of Git is open-source, and you have the complete flexibility to modify its code as per your needs. However, clone the Git project and should have the appropriate knowledge to do so.

Whether you are an individual developer or a business owner, making use of Git is going to prove economical for you. Also, you will be able to enjoy several wonderful features that are not available with many other version control systems.

When a team works on a development project, the team members may be using different operating systems. However, Git allows them to collaborate seamlessly as the VCS is available for all the major operating systems, including Linux, macOS, and Windows. It is possible to make commits locally and push/pull code to/from the same online Git repositories using workstations running different operating systems.

Even more, Git is compatible with several protocols and allows you to access repositories of other version control systems like SVN and CVS. Also, many popular source code editors, such as Visual Studio Code, come with built-in Git support.

  • Distributed System

Git is a distributed version control system (DVCS), which means that the code repository can be mirrored on and accessed by several devices. It eventually allows multiple developers to collaborate and work on a common project efficiently.

Also, unlike centralized version control systems (CVCS), a DVCS relies on a peer-to-peer approach instead of a client-server approach, making it possible for developers to work independently on a project and that too offline.

Every developer can change the codebase locally and later merges the changes with the central repository stored with a hosting service provider. There are several benefits of using a DVCS like Git, with one of the most noticeable being its ability to prevent data loss.

If we consider CVCS, the improper functioning or breakdown of the server will restrict you from accessing the codebase stored on it, or in some severe cases, the whole codebase data could be lost. On the contrary, a DVCS system enables multiple users to mirror the codebase by pulling it on their local systems. So, even if the server crashes, the codebase can be recovered easily from one of the devices that had mirrored it recently, thus preventing data loss.

  • Supports Branching

Branching in Git makes it possible for multiple developers to work individually on the same project. You can branch out a copy from the original codebase and make changes without worrying about altering the original repository. Also, each branch runs in parallel to the main codebase or project files.

The best thing about branching is that there is no limit to the number of branches you can create. Thus, it becomes easier for several team members to develop and test new features without affecting the master branch that holds the production quality code.

Additionally, it is quite easy to merge a branch with the main branch and can be accomplished with a few simple Git commands.

  • Secure and Reliable

Git employs various security measures to ensure that all your repositories on the central server are safeguarded against unauthorized access. Also, each commit done with Git is secured with the SHA-1 cryptographic algorithm. The algorithm helps identify the commit and convert the commit object into a Hex code of 14 digits.

All this makes it easier for Git to keep a complete record of the commits made by users and helps track down the commits that may have caused issues in the proper execution of the codebase. When it comes to reliability, one can completely depend on Git to ensure the integrity of your projects.

As you know, every time a developer or collaborator uses the pull operation, a copy of the repo is created on their local system. So, in case the server hosting the repository crashes or malfunctions, the codebase can be restored from the local repository.

Also, if the situation gets reversed and a collaborator loses the repo data for some reason, it is possible to pull the latest version of the repository from the central server. Thus, the chances of losing the entire project data become very less.

Prerequisites for Learning Git

Before you start learning Git, you can think if there are any prerequisites for doing so. Well, to be honest, there are some, but they are quite basic. Also, if you are already into coding, meeting these prerequisites would not be an issue for you at all.

Nonetheless, here are the prerequisites for learning Git:

  • Basic knowledge of the terminal (for macOS and Linux) or command prompt (for Windows).
  • Able to read, write, and modify code files.

So, that’s everything you need to get started with Git.

Git GUI Clients

While working with Git, one thing that you need in particular is a Git GUI client. While you can use Git from the command line, a GUI client makes it much easier for you to manage both local and remote Git repositories with ease.

However, before we discuss the best GUI clients that you may consider using, we should know that most GUIs only support a limited functionality of Git. If you want to make use of all the Git commands and explore this VCS to the fullest, make use of the command line to operate Git.

Nonetheless, here are the 3 top Git GUI clients that can enhance your experience of working with Git:

Sourcetree is a free Git GUI that is used extensively by companies to manage their Git repositories. It is popular for its simple and easy-to-use interface for  beginners to operate with ease. It is available for both Windows and macOS systems, one of the best things about Sourcetree. 

Key Features:

  • You can track all the changes made to different branches of a repository with its detailed branching diagrams.
  • It supports large files.
  • Allows you to search branches, commits, file changes.
  • Searching and cloning remote repos to your local system becomes quite easy with a remote repository manager.

GitKraken is yet another popular and reliable Git GUI client that comes loaded with various useful features. While it is free for individual users, professional teams will need to buy its premium plan at $4.95 per user per month.

Also, GitKraken is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux, ensuring smooth collaboration among team members even if they are working on different operating systems.

Key Features:

  • It comes with a built-in code editor.
  • It works well with many popular Git repository hosting services, including GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket.
  • It supports Git hooks and Git LFS (Large File Storage).
  • Provides tools to manage pull requests, commits, and merge conflicts with ease.
  1. SmartGit

If you want to manage your Git repositories effectively by using more Git commands than the common ones, you may consider using SmartGit. It is a powerful Git GUI client that is difficult to use compared to other popular GUI clients.

To make the most out of this GUI client, develop a good understanding of Git commands. When it comes to compatibility, SmartGit works well with systems running Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Key Features

  • Allows you to compare changes in files and directories
  • Resolving merge conflicts is easy with Conflict Solver.
  • It supports integration with GitHub and Bitbucket.

How to Learn Git?

Learning Git is quite easy, especially if you have resources that make it easier to grasp the concepts effectively. If you search on the internet, you will be amazed to see a multitude of learning resources, including tutorials that can help you get familiar with the working of Git.

However, as you may already know, not all of them are good enough for you to tread on the path of learning Git in the best possible way. So, you would need to do extensive research to find the finest of them all, but all this will waste a lot of your precious time.

To make your learning process quick and more fruitful, we have already cherry-picked the best Git tutorials available online and are easily accessible. All you need is to go through their overview and choose one that seems best to you. So, here they are discussed as follows:

Top 5 Git Tutorials

1. Git Complete: The definitive, Step-by-Step guide to Git - Udemy

It is one of the best Git tutorials available on the web and is utterly suitable for beginners who have little to no idea how Git works. The tutorial covers all the essential concepts of Git and helps you learn with the help of examples. Also, you will get familiar with the complete Git workflow and thus, become capable of tracking changes and managing different versions of your project files like a pro.

This 6-hour long tutorial has been divided into 14 sections that have a collective lecture count of 84. Moreover, apart from video lectures, PDF learning resources are also provided. The tutorial was created by Jason Taylor, a professional with nearly 20 years of experience in programming and software development. Some of the key Git concepts covered by this tutorial include branching and merging, rebasing, stashing, and tagging.

2. Learn Git - Codecademy

Codecademy is among the top-rated online learning platforms that let you access a wide array of courses to learn to code. The online learning platform offers a comprehensive course for learning Git that you must check out if you want to learn Git from scratch.

The estimated length of this course is 10 hours, but the actual time to complete the course depends on your learning ability and your familiarity with the subject.

The course is divided into four sections to make sure that you learn Git effectively. Also, you will be working on different projects and undertaking quizzes to test the knowledge you gained from lessons. In all, this course will help you become familiar with Git VCS and make the most out of it.

3. How Git Works - Pluralsight

It is another popular Git tutorial that will come in handy for you on the fundamentals of Git as you progress in your career as a developer or system administrator. Also, this tutorial is not only apt for beginners, but individuals with some knowledge and experience working with Git can also follow it to master the popular version control system.

This Git tutorial is among the top-rated tutorials available on Pluralsight, having an overall rating of 5 stars. The total duration of this tutorial is approximately 2 hours, which is relatively short compared to most Git tutorials out there. Despite that, it still covers many Git concepts, such as branching, merging, rebasing, and push & pull code. The Git tutorial is available in the form of video lectures.

4. Git Tutorial: Get Started with Version Control - Taniarascia

While this is another great Git tutorial that you can go for, it lacks video lectures. The whole tutorial is available for you to read on a single web page. Nonetheless, the content is curated specifically for beginners, so it will be quite easy for you to understand the Git concepts discussed in this tutorial.

The tutorial is more of a step-by-step guide that allows you to learn how to create a Git repo and track revisions of your project. You’ll learn to install Git on your system and push the project files to a live server. However, keep in mind that this tutorial does not cover all the essential Git concepts. Still, it’s a good option if you want some exposure to Git VCS.

5. Practical Git for Everyday Professional Use - Egghead

This is yet another short and effective tutorial that will make it easier for you to learn and start using Git daily. The tutorial is divided into 22 short-length video lessons to ensure that you understand Git concepts without getting confused. Some of the topics covered in this tutorial include creating local repositories, synchronizing local and remote repositories, branching and merging, and staging commits.

The instructor of this tutorial is Trevor Miller, and the overall duration is limited to a mere 1 hour. Talking about the popularity of this tutorial, it has garnered an average rating of 4.6 stars out of 5. At the time of writing this blog, nearly 1.2K people have already completed this tutorial.

Free Tutorials

While several Git tutorials are available for free, only some offer a learning experience that can be pretty much compared with the top paid Git tutorials. If you are looking for a tutorial that can help you master Git for free, you can consider this Git tutorial mentioned below.

6. Version Control with Git - Udacity

Udacity is well-known for offering top-grade courses that aim to help you develop new skills. It is designed specifically for beginners to help them learn the fundamentals of Git.

If you have little to no knowledge of how Git works and how you can use it as a version control system for your projects, you need not worry, as this course will provide you all the knowledge required to get started with Git.

This Git course is divided into six sections or lessons covering topics, such as repository creation, adding and deleting commits, tagging and branching commit, and merging changes. You will learn from instructor videos and test your knowledge by participating in interactive quizzes provided within the course. All in all, you will likely have a rich Git learning experience.

Official Documentation

If you want to dive deeper into the concepts of Git and want to learn it better than most people, consider its official documentation.

Through the documentation, you can get familiar with all the commands available within Git. Also, you will develop an in-depth understanding of various Git commands and learn how you can use them to your advantage. Check out the official documentation of Git here.

Git Certification

Certifications are of utmost importance if you want your skills to get noticed and eventually hired by a reputable organization. As far as Git is concerned, hundreds of online certification programs are good enough for you to master Git and obtain a valid certificate.

In case you are thinking about why it would be a good idea to enroll in a Git certification program, then let us help you get familiar with the key benefits of certifications that are as follows:

  1. A certification program is a professional course that allows you to develop an in-depth knowledge of the subject under consideration. Also, you will be able to grow your skills in such a way that makes it easier for you to use them to the fullest while working in a professional environment.
  2. Having a certification highlighted on your resume will give you a competitive advantage over other people applying for the same position as you. An appropriate certification helps a recruiter realize that you bear all the necessary qualities required to excel in your career. Thus, a certification will help you stand out among the crowd and increase your hiring chances.
  3. Another noticeable benefit of obtaining a certification is that it can increase your earning potential. Today, many organizations look for professionals who have undergone specialized training or certification programs and can utilize the latest tools and techniques to accomplish work faster and better. Also, companies pay more to certified professionals than their counterparts that do not possess any certification.
  4. Whether you are a beginner trying to get into a career or a professional trying to switch careers, a certification will boost your confidence and help you progress effectively. Even more, certifications can help you master new skills and advance your career. You will feel motivated and get the strength to achieve more in your professional life.

If you are ready to enrol yourself in a Git certification program, you simply need to search for the best online Git certifications and choose one that is popular and meets your requirements.

Git Interview Questions

During Git-based interviews, you’ll be asked about various intricacies and concepts about the popular version control system. These questions will vary in difficulty from basic to advanced.

If you’ve enough experience with Git, answering these questions won’t be a challenging task. For your reference, here are some sample Git interview questions that might come your way during a Git-based interview:

  1. What is a git repository?
  2. Can you explain the git conflict?
  3. What does the git ls-tree command do?
  4. What is the git stash command?
  5. How will you delete a branch in git?
  6. What is the difference between git fetch and git pull commands?
  7. Please explain git reflog.
  8. What command will you use to know the list of branches merged to master?
  9. Is it possible to revert a bad commit that has already been pushed? How?
  10. What factors will you consider when making a choice between git merge and git rebase commands?

These interview questions will give you some idea about the questions you will be asked during a Git-based interview.

The Git & Github Bootcamp

To Wrap it Up

Git is unequivocally the most popular version control system known for being easy to use and comes loaded with a wide array of features. With Git, tracking changes made to files and managing different versions of files become extremely convenient. Whether you are a software developer or a web developer, you should build expertise in at least one major VCS, and frankly, there can be no better choice than Git.

Apart from being a skill that is high in demand, Git is also easy to learn. There are several high-rated tutorials available on the web that will boost your learning process. Also, while working with Git, it is advisable to get familiar with popular Git GUI clients like Sourcetree and GitKraken. A Git GUI client will make it easy to manage your Git repositories and strengthen team members’ collaboration.

The reason for you to master Git is to land a high-paying job. However, to get noticed by recruiters, you need a certification on your resume. While there are plenty of Git certifications, 

choose one that suits your requirements and your budget, as most certification courses require you to pay some fees.

By enrolling in a certification program, you will strengthen your knowledge of Git and get a certificate that will testify to your skills and achievements.

In all, it is possible to learn and master Git even if you are a complete beginner, and this guide is likely going to help you a lot. Good luck with your learning! ?

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By Vijay Singh Khatri

With 5+ years of experience across various tech stacks such as C, C++, PHP, Python, SQL, Angular, and AWS, Vijay has a bachelor's degree in computer science and a specialty in SEO and helps a lot of ed-tech giants with their organic marketing. Also, he persists in gaining knowledge of content marketing and SEO tools. He has worked with various analytics tools for over eight years.

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