Ditch FTP For GIT

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by Jess Brown

Ever since I started learning Ruby On Rails several years ago, I’ve been using git. Git is a cool tool you can use for version control, or in some cases, simple incremental backups. It basically keeps track of your code and file changes, you commit/save the changes and can revert back, review history and do all sorts of cool stuff. It additionally will allow you to setup a remote repository to push changes to. That’s where this article comes in.

Using git in rails is really a must, but in the static world, FTP mostly dominates.

I’m really tired of using FTP. I probably hit Command + Shift + Upload 200 times a day. Sometimes I edit files very quickly and hop from file to file, add images to a images directory and javascript files to the js directory. How can I remember which files to FTP? It can be as simple as “git push” and only my changes are updated.

First off, requirements:

  • web server with shell access
  • web server with git installed
  • local machine with a terminal
  • local machine with git installed
  • local machine to test (if you can’t run your code on your local machine or local server, it doesn’t make much sense to setup git...it would be painful to add, commit, push every tiny change)

Get Started

Server Side

Take care of the server side first. ssh into your web server and find a place outside your public folder. For example, a cpanel server is /home/account_name/public_html. I’d store it in /home/account_name.

mkdir account_name.git && cd account_name.git
git init --bare

Now we’ll tell git where to store the actual files:

git config core.worktree /home/account_name/public_html
git config core.bare false
git config receive.denycurrentbranch ignore

Now we have to tell git what to do after we push changes.  Create and open a new file:

vim hooks/post-receive

In this file place this code:

#!/bin/sh
#tell git to copy over the files
git checkout -f
#change ownership of files so your web server can serve them (I’m logging in as root so it may not be necessary if you logging in as account_name
chown -R account_name:account_name /home/account_name/public_html/*

Note: This file (post-receive) needs to be executable. To be sure:

chmod 755 hooks/post-receive

Local Side

Navigate to the directory where your website code lives. If you haven’t already setup git:

git init
git add .
git commit -m ‘initial commit’

Now link up the remote repository:

git remote add origin ssh://user@yourwebserver.com/home/account_name/account_name.git

Now it’s time for the magic:

git push origin master

Your website should now be live. You can now make changes locally, test and then push. Example:

#...make some changes to your code
# test them (this could be a visual QA test or automated test)
git add .
git commit -m ‘my first changes’
git push #no need for the origin master now

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