GitHub CLI: create and manage PRs from the command line
Recently released in beta, GitHub CLI managed to integrate seamlessly in my workflow, like it’s always been there. As oh-my-zsh’s git aliases, they quickly became muscle memory.
Of course, there are two kinds of programmers: those who use a desktop client for git, and those who don’t. Vim being my editor of choice, you can probably guess which camp I’m in. Hearing that GitHub have released a tool just for me was music to my ears.
What is it for?
Mainly for managing pull requests and issues directly from the command line.
How to get it
brew install gh
Chechking PRs for code reviews:
gh pr view and
gh pr checkout •
For a little bit of context, as a frontend developer, I like to always run pull requests locally, to make sure what I review works and looks fine (sure, QA can do that too, but let them catch the bugs that aren’t obvious.) So, reviewing a pull request involves reading the changes, checking out the branch, and running locally.
In a browser-based workflow, this looks something like the following:
- copy the branch name from github.com/org/repo/pull/123
git checkout the-pr-branch
- oh, I forgot to pull, it’s not there yet.
git checkout the-pr-branch
- run code.
The same using the cli:
gh pr list
gh pr checkout 123
- run code.
That’s my kind of workflow! ⚡️
This is what happens in a bit more detail:
$ gh pr list Pull requests for some-org/some-repo #123 Add some great feature feat/cool-feature #124 Fix nasty bug fix/nasty-bug
gh pr list shows me all the open pull requests in the current repo. All I need to do is choose which one I’m interested in.
Now comes the best part:
checkout switches to the PR’s branch based on PR number.
$ gh pr checkout 123 Switched to branch feat/cool-feature Your branch is up-to-date with origin/feat/cool-feature.
I can also open the PR on github.com right from the terminal (it opens the browser automatically):
$ gh pr view 123 --web Opening https://github.com/some-org/some-repo/pull/123 in your browser.
Opening pull requests:
gh pr create •
$ gh pr create Creating pull request for feat/cool-feature into master in some-org/some-repo ? Title ▌
After filling title and body (the latter using your system editor), it will give you the option to preview, submit or cancle the pull request. Depending on the task, I usually preview and request reviews, but sometimes just submit.
$ gh pr create Creating pull request for feat/cool-feature into master in some-org/some-repo ? Title Fix nasty bug ? Body <Received> ? What's next? [Use arrows to move, type to filter] > Preview in browser Submit Cancel
You can also open a draft pull request by passing the
gh pr create -d.
Useful for checks:
gh pr status •
You can check the overall PR status of a branch with
gh pr status. This is not an overview though; it is branch-specific. So for the following output, you have to be on the same branch as the PR:
$ gh pr status Current branch #123 Add cool feature - Checks passing #124 Fix nasty bug - Checks passing Created by you You have no open pull requests Requesting a code review from you #123 Add cool feature - Checks passing - Review required
Issues etc. •
You can list, view (open in browser) and open issues with the respective commands
gh issue list,
gh issue view 10, and
gh issue create. They work very similarly to
And, just as I was checking the docs to fact-check what I’m writing, I’ve discovered you can create a repo with
gh repo create some-org/another-repo. Not something I do on a daily basis, but I might even get to using it! On the other hand,
gh repo clone some-org/some-other-repo is a much friendlier experience than either remembering the whole .git repo url syntax or visiting the repo and clicking clone.
Overall? Lgtm. •
GitHub CLI is a simple, easy-to-use tool that’s also easy to love.
Be sure to check out the docs, as there are a lot of useful options. Happy coding! 🎉
I admit this may be a very personal choice, and I have an opinionated… opinion. That is, to understand git properly, and solve more complex issues, it’s better to use the command line. As the desktop repo states, “GitHub Desktop is not a replacement for the functionality of Git, but a tool to enable you and your team to be more productive.” ↩︎
You can set this in
~/.zshrc, whichever you use, by adding
export EDITOR=vim(or any other editor you like.) ↩︎