Working with git – The git-bisect Command

7git-bisect is very cool.

If you have ever had a situation where a commit was made that had a bug – but you are not sure which commit it is – then git-bisect is the tool you need.

To use git-bisect, you need to know a good commit and a bad commit.  It does not matter how recent the good commit is – as long as it is free of the bug in question.  So if you think the bug was introduced in the last 2 weeks, choose the good commit from two weeks ago.  Usually the bad commit is the current commit.

The bisect process is started with three commands: 1 to start the bisect operation, 1 to indicate a good commit, and 1 to indicate a bad commit.

Given that information, git will find the commit exactly in the middle of the good and bad commits and perform a checkout.  At that point your job is to determine if the bug is present in that version of the code.  Once you have determined if the checked out commit is good or bad, you enter git-bisect good (or bad)

This process is repeated with git successively cutting the commits in half and you responding with git bisect good or bad. When the offending commit is found, git will indicate that the operation is complete.

To stop the bisect, type ‘git-bisect reset’.

The below example is small but it illustrates how bisect works.  The binary nature of this search means that even a repository with thousands of commits can be searched relatively quickly.

C:\code\blog [master]> git l1
c0c8983 renamed index
1c3fca8 added new file
f5394fc removed app3.js
2891ab0 updated app2
4233352 updated app1.js
c8fbbc1 modified index page
71e0471 initial commit
C:\code\blog [master]> git bisect start
C:\code\blog [master]> git bisect bad
C:\code\blog [master]> git bisect good c8fbbc1
Bisecting: 2 revisions left to test after this (roughly 1 step)
[2891ab0fedd45e553979de942368d3728a6412f4] updated app 2
C:\code\blog [(2891ab0...)|BISECTING]> git bisect good
Bisecting: 0 revisions left to test after this (roughly 1 step)
[1c3fca854d02c4ebce605bbe234cfb8d95a1ae66] added new file
C:\code\blog [(1c3fca8...)|BISECTING]> git bisect bad
Bisecting: 0 revisions left to test after this (roughly 0 steps)
[f5394fc841d35f004b368dff438dccf4607e1bec] removed app3.js
C:\code\blog [f5394fc...)|BISECTING]> git bisect bad
Author: Rick Herrmann <>
Date: Sat Jun 13 12:03:44 2015 -0400

     removed app3.js
:100644 000000 e69de29bb2d1d6434b8b29ae775ad8c2e48c5391 0000000000000000000000000000000000000000 D     app3.js
C:\code\blog [(f5394fc...)|BISECT]>


In steps 1, 2, and 3, I indicate if the checked out commit contains the bug (bad) or not (good).  In step 4, git has identified the offending commit and lists the commit details (who to blame…).

Featured image

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s