The difference between Merge and Rebase

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Oct 16, 2023

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GIT is one of the most used project repositories often used for storing all the base and source codes and new changes. Usually, multiple development teams are involved with the software development lifecycles to handle different functionalities and features of the software to be developed. Therefore, each developer can include additional changes in the code and upload the same to the repository.

Before the code is released into the production environments from SIT and UAT environments, the source codes and new changes are combined. There are two different methods in which the compilation is done in GIT. These are through GIT merge rebase, two different commands with the same purpose but different ways of implementation. Therefore, developers and DevOps professionals must know more about the usage of these two commands, the implementation technique, and the differences. 

rebase vs merge article has discussed how merging and rebasing commands on GIT work. Apart from this, we discuss the differences between rebase vs merge to understand the concept in a better way.

What happens in GIT?

Before diving into the difference between GIT merge and rebase, let's understand how this project repository works. GIT is perhaps the most preferred repository across several companies. It is used in multinational companies and startups as it allows developers to upload codes and changes smoothly. Moreover, it does not let anyone change the main source code without proper access and permission.

To understand the working of GIT, one must know that it can hold two different code components simultaneously. The first is the source code, which is the skeletal system or framework of the development process. At the beginning of the project, developers design the source code according to the business requirements and upload the same on GIT. Any future developments or changes are based on the source codes, as it contains all the original conditions.

The second component of GIT is changed in codes. These are introduced further to align the existing code base with the project requirements. As discussed, multiple developers upload new code changes on GIT simultaneously. The changes cannot be deployed when these codes need to be pushed to the production environment. Instead, the entire code base with the merged changes must be deployed into the production environment from UAT and SIT. To do so, developers can use the GIT platform in two ways. These are commit and branching.

Commit in GIT

In GIT, commit is usually defined as a silo where source code and future changes are stored together. To understand this, let's refer to an example. Let's say a project has 5 Java codes for different process services. These are the source codes that form the base of the entire project. These five source codes will be stored in a comet with a specific ID. Whenever developers need to access the codes, they must provide the ID to access the respective commit.

If two developers introduced changes in the form of two different code bases and stored them on GIT, these two code bases and the five source codes will be held in a new commit with a separate ID. This is because if the changes were stored in the original commit, the initial source codes would lose their existence, and no one would be able to refer in the future.

Therefore, a commit is formed every time a new change is pushed into GIT, and all the initial codes and changed programs are stored in different files.

Branching in GIT

Commit is used when no code bases are deployed into the production environment, or the website is not live. However, any change made in the source codes will directly impact the live website's functions when the website is live. Moreover, one will only have limited scope to make further changes if the new regulations do not work or have bugs. So, one must take help from the GIT branch.

Branching is a process where one creates a copy of the source code and saves it in an isolated system so any changes made in the document won't impact the main file. It works simply like a draft format where developers make changes in the copied program code till they are satisfied with the functionalities and testing results. Once done, the new regulations are pasted back into the main folder in GIT that contains the source code of the websites.

Branching plays a crucial role in creating different versioning of the codes. This is because, in the agile method, projects are differentiated into multiple sprints, and several versions of regulations are present as new requirements arise with each sprint. To implement recent changes, developers must refer to the older code version and understand the functionality. As the branching will have an isolated copy of the changed code base, one will not experience problems referencing the older code version and implementing newer changes.

Merging the two isolated branches is done only when developers and testers are entirely sure of new changes and their functionalities. Once codes are integrated into the new frame, there is no going back, as code merge can't be reversed. This is why merging is usually performed in a series of steps, where the first merge is from SIT to UAT and then from UAT to production.

What is GIT merge?

In literal terms, merging means amalgamating multiple items into a single unit to avoid any separate identities. The single unit will perform the functions of all merged units. To understand merge, let's consider an example where a master branch has all the main commits, and a feature branch extending from the master branch in an isolated manner has two commits. These two new commits comprise the changed code base, which still needs to be deployed into the production environment.

The commits on the master branch are named X, Y, and Z, while those on the new feature branch are named A and B. When GIT merge command is executed, the A and B commits from the feature branch are added as a single new commit on the master branch, say with the name M.


No changes in commit logs are encountered during the GIT merge operation.

As individual commits are handled, finding bags is much easier

GIT merge operation is hassle-free and done quite faster


With no log change, the resultant log history becomes messy

Duplicated log records can be present on the server

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What is GIT rebase?

Usually, after the GIT merge command is executed, all logs are compiled and uploaded to the server. As a result, there are chances one can find duplicated records, corrupted logs, and even deleted history. This can create many problems later on as it will be challenging for developers and testers to find what action has been taken from the front end and how the back-end code has responded to it.

To avoid confusion, the GIT rebase command is executed to merge the codes. The feature branch's commits are compiled into individual commits and merged into the main branch. However, the logs are modified after merging is successful in ensuring that there is no duplicity or redundancy.

Considering the above example, let's suppose the master branch has three commits, named X, Y, and Z, while the feature branch has two, designated A and B. After GIT rebase function is executed, both the feature branch commits, A and B, will be merged into the master branch in the form of individual commits. Therefore, the master branch will have X, Y, Z, M, and N commits.


  • The logs are defined further to ensure no redundancy is present.
  • Each new change is stored in a separate commit.


  • It takes much longer for the merging to get completed.

GIT Merge VS GIT Rebase

GIT merge

GIT rebase
GIT merge allows combining changes from the isolated feature branch onto the master branch.GIT rebase is a method through which integration of changes on the feature branch is done onto the master branch.
No changes are made in the logs of the master branch.The master branch logs are modified to bring linearity and refine this.
As the logs are not changed, one can easily track the commits and changes done.There will be no scope to track the commits since the logs will get modified.

It is mainly used if the feature branch is shared.

If the feature branch is private, GIT rebase is the best option.
All the commits from the feature branch are added as a single unit to the master branch.For every commit on the feature branch, a new commit is created on the master branch.


From this article, one can easily understand the significant differences between merge and rebase on GIT. Therefore, developers can decide which process to perform to compile codes and changes together before deployment into the production environment. To learn more about the uses of GIT and using merge and rebase through DevOps, developers can opt for online courses from StarAgile Consulting and sign up for the course.

StarAgile Consulting can help bridge the gaps between knowledge of GIT merge and rebase in the development process and changing expectations. It also provides exceptional DevOps online training to professionals to help them understand the various ways of solving code deployment and merging problems.

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