#git #cli

bin+lib git-stack

Stacked branch management for Git

57 releases

new 0.10.14 Mar 16, 2023
0.10.12 Feb 2, 2023
0.8.5 Sep 6, 2022
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0.5.3 Nov 14, 2021

#164 in Development tools

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Stacked branch management for Git


codecov Documentation License Crates Status

Dual-licensed under MIT or Apache 2.0



Like Stacked-Diffs? git-stack is another approach to bringing the Stacked Diff workflow to PRs/branches that aims to be unintrusive to a project's workflow. Branches are the unit of work and review in git-stack. As you create branches on top of each other (i.e. "stacked" branches), git-stack will takes care of all of the micromanagement for you.

Unfamiliar with Stacked-Diffs? git-stack helps automate a lot of common workflows when dealing with PRs, especially when you start to create PRs on top of PRs.


  • Upstream parent branch auto-detection
  • Maintain branches relative to each other through rebase
  • Defers all permanent changes until the end (e.g. HEAD, re-targeting branches), always leaving you in a good state (similar to git revise)
  • Separates out pull/push remotes for working from a fork
  • On --push, detects which branches are "ready" (e.g. root of stack, no WIP)
  • Undo support: backs up branch state prior to rewriting history


  • Conflict resolution: git-stack will give up and you'll have to use git rebase yourself to resolve the conflict.

To see how git-stack compares to other stacked git tools, see the Comparison.


From your feature branch, run:

jira-3423423 $ git stack --pull

git stack --pull:

  1. Auto-detects your parent remote branch (e.g. main).
  2. Performs a git pull --rebase <remote> <parent>
  3. Rebases jira-3423423 (and any dev branches on the stack) onto <parent>
  4. Shows the stacked branches

See Getting Start for a complete workflow example.

The closest equivalent is:

jira-3423 $ git checkout main
main $ git pull --rebase upstream main
main $ git checkout jira-3154
jira-3154 $ git rebase HEAD~~ --onto main
jira-3154 $ git checkout jira-3259
jira-3259 $ git rebase HEAD~ --onto jira-3154
jira-3259 $ git checkout jira-3423
jira-3423 $ git rebase HEAD~ --onto jurao-3259
jira-3423 $ git log --graph --all --oneline --decorate main..HEAD

For more, see Command Reference

Parent branch auto-detection works by separating the concept of upstream-controlled branches (called "protected branches") and your development branches.


Download a pre-built binary (installable via gh-install).

Or use rust to install:

$ cargo install git-stack

We also recommend installing git-branch-stash for easily undoing git stack operations:

$ cargo install git-branch-stash-cli

Configuring git-stack

Aliases: To avoid name collisions while keeping things brief, git-stack ships as one binary but can help configure aliases by running git stack alias --register. You can then modify the aliases if you want to make some flags the default.

Protected branches: These are branches that git-stack should not modify. git-stack will also rebase local protected branches against their remote counter parts. Usually you mark shared or long-lived branches as protected, like main, v3.

Run git-stack --protected -v to test your config

  • To locally protect additional branches, run git-stack --protect <glob>.
  • When adopting git-stack as a team, you can move the protected branches from $REPO/.git/config to $REPO/.gitconfig and commit it.

Pull remote when working from a fork, where upstream is a different remote than origin, run git config --add stack.pull-remote <REMOTE> to set your remote in $REPO/.git/config.

To see the config, run git-stack --dump-config -.

For more, see Configuration Reference.


If you registered aliases, you'll want to run git stack alias --unregister to remove them.

See the uninstall method for your installer.

Once removed, git-stack leaves behind:

  • .git/branch-stash

Removing this is safe and will have no effect.

Getting Started


$ # Update branches against upstream
$ git sync

$ # Start a new branch / PR
$ git switch -c feature1
$ git add -A; git commit -m "Work"
$ git add -A; git commit -m "More Work"
$ git run cargo check
$ git prev
$ git add -A; git amend  # Fix problems in "Work" commit
$ git run cargo check
$ git next

$ # See what this looks like
$ git stack

$ # Clean up in preparation for a push
$ git sync

$ # Push whats ready
$ git stack --push

For more, see Command Reference.


When should my branches be stacked?

This is up to you. Some might prefer to have linear development (single branch) and just manipulate ordering within that.

For me, I prefer to stack branches of related work or when there is a dependency between them, like a feature being stacked on top of a refactor to enable that feature

  • Only deal with conflicts when I have to (one gets merged we're rebasing on top of it)
  • Stacking of PRs, especially of unrelated work, doesn't work too well in Github

How do I stack another branch on top of an existing one?

  • New branch: git switch feature1 && git switch -c feature2 and start adding commits
  • Moving existing: git stack --rebase --base feature1 --onto main moves feature2 to main, from off of feature1
    • Without git stack: git rebase feature1 --onto main

How do I start a new feature?

This works like normal, just checkout the branch you want to base the feature on and start adding commits.

For example:

$ git switch feature1
$ git switch -c feature2

How do I add a commit to a parent branch in a stack?

  • If this is for fixing a problem in a previous commit, git commit --fixup <ref> and then git-stack --rebase will move it to where it needs to be.
  • If this is to append to the parent branch, for now you'll have to use git rebase -i

How do I stack my PRs in Github?

Currently, Github is limited to showing all commits for a branch, even if some of those commits are "owned" by another PR. We recommend only posting one PR at a time within a stack. If you really need to, you can direct your reviewers to the commits within each PR to look at. However, you will see the CI run status of top commit for each PR dependency.

When is a commit considered WIP?

If a commit summary is only WIP or is prefixed by:

  • WIP:
  • draft:
  • Draft:
  • wip
  • WIP

This includes the prefixes used by Gitlab

What is git branch-stash

git-branch-stash is a separate utility that is like git stash for instead of your working tree, it stashes what commit each of your branches points to. git stack backs up using git branch-stashs file format to lower the risk of trying things out with git stack.

Why don't you just ...?

Have an idea, we'd love to hear it! There are probably git operations or workflows we haven't heard of and would welcome the opportunity to learn more.


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