Git Branching Strategy For Agile - An Overview

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Oct 05, 2023

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Git is a strong version control system that has taken over as the norm in the software development industry. It makes it possible for programmers to work together effectively, keep track of code modifications, and handle different project versions. Git Branching strategy for agile may be very useful for distant teams and projects. However, best practices must be adhered to in order to fully utilise Git's capabilities. We'll go through some of the greatest methods for using Git branching model in dispersed teams and agile projects in this blog.

Development, Staging and Production environments

Every project should have a minimum of three environments, all of which should have the same server configuration:

  • Development environment: Work in progress that isn't yet stable or ready for release is typical in Agile initiatives. Using a testing environment, sometimes referred to as a staging environment or a testing server, to test the work in progress is one of the best practices in such circumstances. As a result, the Agile team may test out new features and functions, get user input, and find problems before the product is released.

The Agile team may find bugs, mistakes, and other problems early on and take immediate action on them by testing work in a staging environment. This lessens the amount of rework required, prevents significant setbacks during the final release, and conserves time and money. Additionally, testing in a staging environment offers a secure, private environment where users can test out new features without affecting the live system.

  • Staging environment: Code that is almost ready to be deployed into the live production environment is tested in the pre-production environment. This setting is essential because it enables the Agile team to mimic real-world situations and test how the code works with other components of the system before it is put into production. 

To guarantee that any changes to the system have the same effect as they would in the live environment, it is ideal to install a complete database backup from the live production environment in this environment. This method guarantees a more seamless release procedure while reducing the likelihood of faults and defects in the production environment.

  • Production environment: The final version of the programme is deployed to the live site in the production environment after it has undergone thorough testing, approval, and verification to fulfil the necessary quality requirements. 

The production environment is where the software is really utilised by end users, and any problems or failures there might have a big impact on the company and its clients. Deploying only fully tested and authorised versions into the production environment is therefore essential. To maintain the smooth running of the system and prevent any downtime or other difficulties that may lead to customer discontent, the software must be reliable, secure, and satisfy all functional and non-functional criteria.

Git main branches

The primary server, also known as the central repository, contains two primary branches that exist indefinitely:

  • Master : The branch in the Git repository that represents the most recent stable version of the code is called the Master branch, often referred to as the main branch. It serves as the foundation for deploying the application to the production server and is constantly in a production-ready state. Releases from the Master branch are labelled as being ready for deployment. Changes are often merged into this branch from other branches because it is the principal branch in the repository. Given that the Master branch serves as the foundation for all production releases, it must be kept tidy, trustworthy, and stable.
  • Develop : For the development and integration of new modifications, the development branch is considered. It always reflects the most recent status of the next release's development modifications. To make it possible for other Agile team members to access and test the new features, this branch has been published to the development environment. The development branch, which enables team participation and guarantees that all changes are tested before being merged into the production-ready master branch, is essential to maintaining a stable and effective development process.

Git Branching Model

The workflow in a Git repository is organised using the Git branching model.  It outlines the creation, merging, and management of branches within a team setting.

Agile teams who work on complicated projects with several features, versions, and releases benefit the most from the Git branching model.

The Git branching model also defines three types of temporary branches that are used for specific purposes:

  • Feature branches: From the develop branch, additional feature branches are produced, which are used to implement and test new features without immediately affecting the main development branch. These feature branches may be worked on by individual team members or a group of developers, and after the feature is fully created and tested, it can be merged back into the develop branch. By establishing feature branches, development activity may be carried out concurrently, improving team cooperation and version control.
  • Release branches: Temporary branches produced from the develop branch are known as release candidate branches, and they indicate that the Agile team has accepted the stability and suitability of the code for production release. While new features are being created and integrated, these branches are used to keep the release separate from additional changes in the develop branch. After testing and approval, the code in the release candidate branch is sent to the staging server for one more round of testing before going into production. Before the release is deployed to the production server, any bugs discovered during testing are fixed in that branch. This contributes to the reliable and error-free operation of the production environment.
  • Hotfix branches:  Hotfix branches are made from the master branch when a major fix is needed in production but the modifications in the develop branch are not yet stable enough for a release. These branches are utilised to make the required corrections independently of the develop branch and are then immediately pushed to the production environment. When the hotfix is finished, it can be merged back into the develop and master branches to guarantee that the fix appears in the upcoming release. Hotfixes must be used rarely, and the Agile team must constantly work to produce stable code that can be made available through the standard release cycle.

Also Read : Agile Vs Rad 

Git branching and merging

The following are the guidelines to establish and integrate branches within the Git system:

Branch TypeDescription
Feature BranchesCreated off the develop branch for development of a new feature or enhancement. These branches are merged back into the develop branch after completion.
ReleaseBranchesCreated off the develop branch when it's decided that the code is stable and ready to be released. Any bug fixes for the release are made in this branch. After the release is done, the changes are merged back into develop and master branches.
Hotfix BranchesCreated off the master branch to fix an issue in production that cannot wait for the next release. These branches are merged back into both master and develop branches.

To make sure that your local repository is current with the most recent modifications made by the other team members, you must synchronise your local repository with the central repository or origin server before you begin establishing a new branch or merging an existing branch.

It's time to merge those modifications back into the main branch when you've made the required adjustments, tested them, and verified that everything is functioning as it should. It's best to double-check the modifications before merging to make sure they don't clash with any other changes that may have been made by other team members.

To make the modifications available to the rest of the team when the merge is finished, be sure to push the changes to the origin server. This step is essential to ensuring that everyone can access the most recent version of the project and work without interruptions.

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Any project and distributed team must implement a git branching strategy for Agile. The plan makes sure that modifications are compartmentalised, tested, and easily incorporated into the core codebase. The aforementioned recommended practices, such as making feature, release, and hotfix branches, guarantee that development work is organised and that modifications are accurately tracked.

Take the Agile Coach Certification course provided by StarAgile if you're interested in becoming an Agile coach and want to learn more about Agile practices, including git branching strategy. A thorough education in Agile practices and concepts, including coaching, facilitation, and mentoring techniques, is offered through the ICP-ACC (ICAgile Certified Professional - Agile Coaching) certification. It's a great approach to broaden your understanding of Agile and establish yourself as a useful team player.

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