GitPython Tutorial

GitPython provides object model access to your git repository. This tutorial is composed of multiple sections, each of which explain a real-life usecase.

Initialize a Repo object

The first step is to create a Repo object to represent your repository:

from git import *
repo = Repo("/Users/mtrier/Development/git-python")

In the above example, the directory /Users/mtrier/Development/git-python is my working repository and contains the .git directory. You can also initialize GitPython with a bare repository:

repo = Repo.create("/var/git/git-python.git")

A repo object provides high-level access to your data, it allows you to create and delete heads, tags and remotes and access the configuration of the repository:

repo.config_reader()        # get a config reader for read-only access
repo.config_writer()        # get a config writer to change configuration

Query the active branch, query untracked files or whether the repository data has been modified:


Clone from existing repositories or initialize new empty ones:

cloned_repo = repo.clone("to/this/path")
new_repo = repo.init("path/for/new/repo")

Archive the repository contents to a tar file:


Examining References

References are the tips of your commit graph from which you can easily examine the history of your project:

heads = repo.heads
master = heads.master       # lists can be accessed by name for convenience
master.commit               # the commit pointed to by head called master
master.rename("new_name")   # rename heads

Tags are (usually immutable) references to a commit and/or a tag object:

tags = repo.tags
tagref = tags[0]
tagref.tag                  # tags may have tag objects carrying additional information
tagref.commit               # but they always point to commits
repo.delete_tag(tagref)     # delete or
repo.create_tag("my_tag")   # create tags using the repo for convenience

A symbolic reference is a special case of a reference as it points to another reference instead of a commit:

head = repo.head            # the head points to the active branch/ref
master = head.reference     # retrieve the reference the head points to
master.commit               # from here you use it as any other reference

Modifying References

You can easily create and delete reference types or modify where they point to:

repo.delete_head('master')           # delete an existing head
master = repo.create_head('master')  # create a new one
master.commit = 'HEAD~10'            # set branch to another commit without changing index or working tree

Create or delete tags the same way except you may not change them afterwards:

new_tag = repo.create_tag('my_tag', 'my message')

Change the symbolic reference to switch branches cheaply ( without adjusting the index or the working copy ):

new_branch = repo.create_head('new_branch')
repo.head.reference = new_branch

Understanding Objects

An Object is anything storable in git’s object database. Objects contain information about their type, their uncompressed size as well as the actual data. Each object is uniquely identified by a SHA1 hash, being 40 hexadecimal characters in size or 20 bytes in size.

Git only knows 4 distinct object types being Blobs, Trees, Commits and Tags.

In Git-Pyhton, all objects can be accessed through their common base, compared and hashed, as shown in the following example:

hc = repo.head.commit
hct = hc.tree
hc != hct
hc != repo.tags[0]
hc == repo.head.reference.commit

Basic fields are:

'a95eeb2a7082212c197cabbf2539185ec74ed0e8'        # returns string with pure uncompressed data
len( == hct.size

Index Objects are objects that can be put into git’s index. These objects are trees and blobs which additionally know about their path in the filesystem as well as their mode:

hct.path            # root tree has no path
hct.trees[0].path   # the first subdirectory has one though
htc.mode            # trees have mode 0
'%o' % htc.blobs[0].mode    # blobs have a specific mode though comparable to a standard linux fs

Access blob data (or any object data) directly or using streams:            # binary tree data as string ( inefficient )
htc.blobs[0].data_stream            # stream object to read data from
htc.blobs[0].stream_data(my_stream) # write data to given stream

The Commit object

Commit objects contain information about a specific commit. Obtain commits using references as done in Examining References or as follows.

Obtain commits at the specified revision:


Iterate 100 commits:

repo.iter_commits('master', max_count=100)

If you need paging, you can specify a number of commits to skip:

repo.iter_commits('master', max_count=10, skip=20)

The above will return commits 21-30 from the commit list.:

headcommit = repo.head.commit


[<git.Commit "a91c45eee0b41bf3cdaad3418ca3850664c4a4b4">]

<git.Tree "563413aedbeda425d8d9dcbb744247d0c3e8a0ac">
<git.Actor "Michael Trier <>">

headcommit.authored_date        # seconds since epoch

<git.Actor "Michael Trier <>">


'cleaned up a lot of test information. Fixed escaping so it works with

Note: date time is represented in a seconds since epock format. Conversion to human readable form can be accomplished with the various time module methods:

import time
'Wed May 7 05:56:02 2008'

time.strftime("%a, %d %b %Y %H:%M", time.gmtime(headcommit.committed_date))
'Wed, 7 May 2008 05:56'

You can traverse a commit’s ancestry by chaining calls to parents:


The above corresponds to master^^^ or master~3 in git parlance.

The Tree object

A tree records pointers to the contents of a directory. Let’s say you want the root tree of the latest commit on the master branch:

tree = repo.heads.master.commit.tree
<git.Tree "a006b5b1a8115185a228b7514cdcd46fed90dc92">


Once you have a tree, you can get the contents:

tree.trees          # trees are subdirectories
[<git.Tree "f7eb5df2e465ab621b1db3f5714850d6732cfed2">]

tree.blobs          # blobs are files
[<git.Blob "a871e79d59cf8488cac4af0c8f990b7a989e2b53">,
<git.Blob "3594e94c04db171e2767224db355f514b13715c5">,
<git.Blob "e79b05161e4836e5fbf197aeb52515753e8d6ab6">,
<git.Blob "94954abda49de8615a048f8d2e64b5de848e27a1">]

Its useful to know that a tree behaves like a list with the ability to query entries by name:

tree[0] == tree['dir']                      # access by index and by sub-path
<git.Tree "f7eb5df2e465ab621b1db3f5714850d6732cfed2">
for entry in tree: do_something_with(entry)

blob = tree[0][0]
>>>tree['dir/file'].sha == blob.sha

There is a convenience method that allows you to get a named sub-object from a tree with a syntax similar to how paths are written in an unix system:

<git.Tree "c1c7214dde86f76bc3e18806ac1f47c38b2b7a30">
tree/"dir/file" == blob.sha

You can also get a tree directly from the repository if you know its name:

<git.Tree "master">

<git.Tree "c1c7214dde86f76bc3e18806ac1f47c38b2b7a30">
<git.Tree "6825a94104164d9f0f5632607bebd2a32a3579e5">

As trees only allow direct access to their direct entries, use the traverse method to obtain an iterator to traverse entries recursively:

<generator object at 0x7f6598bd65a8>
for entry in traverse(): do_something_with(entry)

The Index Object

The git index is the stage containing changes to be written with the next commit or where merges finally have to take place. You may freely access and manipulate this information using the IndexFile Object:

index = repo.index

Access objects and add/remove entries. Commit the changes:

for stage,blob in index.iter_blobs(): do_something(...)
Access blob objects
for (path,stage),entry in index.entries.iteritems: pass
Access the entries directly
index.add(['my_new_file'])      # add a new file to the index
new_commit = index.commit("my commit message")

Create new indices from other trees or as result of a merge. Write that result to a new index:

tmp_index = Index.from_tree(repo, 'HEAD~1') # load a tree into a temporary index
merge_index = Index.from_tree(repo, 'base', 'HEAD', 'some_branch') # merge two trees three-way

Handling Remotes

Remotes are used as alias for a foreign repository to ease pushing to and fetching from them:

test_remote = repo.create_remote('test', 'git@server:repo.git')
repo.delete_remote(test_remote) # create and delete remotes
origin = repo.remotes.origin    # get default remote by name
origin.refs                     # local remote references
o = origin.rename('new_origin') # rename remotes
o.fetch()                       # fetch, pull and push from and to the remote

You can easily access configuration information for a remote by accessing options as if they where attributes:


Change configuration for a specific remote only:

o.config_writer.set("pushurl", "other_url")

Obtaining Diff Information

Diffs can generally be obtained by Subclasses of Diffable as they provide the diff method. This operation yields a DiffIndex allowing you to easily access diff information about paths.

Diffs can be made between the Index and Trees, Index and the working tree, trees and trees as well as trees and the working copy. If commits are involved, their tree will be used implicitly:

hcommit = repo.head.commit
idiff = hcommit.diff()          # diff tree against index
tdiff = hcommit.diff('HEAD~1')  # diff tree against previous tree
wdiff = hcommit.diff(None)      # diff tree against working tree

index = repo.index
index.diff()                    # diff index against itself yielding empty diff
index.diff(None)                # diff index against working copy
index.diff('HEAD')              # diff index against current HEAD tree

The item returned is a DiffIndex which is essentially a list of Diff objects. It provides additional filtering to ease finding what you might be looking for:

for diff_added in wdiff.iter_change_type('A'): do_something_with(diff_added)

Switching Branches

To switch between branches, you effectively need to point your HEAD to the new branch head and reset your index and working copy to match. A simple manual way to do it is the following one:

repo.head.reference = repo.heads.other_branch
repo.head.reset(index=True, working_tree=True)

The previous approach would brutally overwrite the user’s changes in the working copy and index though and is less sophisticated than a git-checkout for instance which generally prevents you from destroying your work. Use the safer approach as follows:

repo.heads.master.checkout()                    # checkout the branch using git-checkout

Using git directly

In case you are missing functionality as it has not been wrapped, you may conveniently use the git command directly. It is owned by each repository instance:

git = repo.git
git.checkout('head', b="my_new_branch")         # default command
git.for_each_ref()                              # '-' becomes '_' when calling it

The return value will by default be a string of the standard output channel produced by the command.

Keyword arguments translate to short and long keyword arguments on the commandline. The special notion git.command(flag=True) will create a flag without value like command --flag.

If None is found in the arguments, it will be dropped silently. Lists and tuples passed as arguments will be unpacked to individual arguments. Objects are converted to strings using the str(...) function.

And even more ...

There is more functionality in there, like the ability to archive repositories, get stats and logs, blame, and probably a few other things that were not mentioned here.

Check the unit tests for an in-depth introduction on how each function is supposed to be used.