Git fake submodules – the git inside git simplified

If you have a main git versioned project and need to include a sub-project the answer is: git submodules. The problem is they are a pain to implement and to maintain!

Luckily Felix Geisendörfer‘s approach simplified this process. He proposes using “fake submodules”:

Meet fake submodules. The idea is simple, instead of using actual submodules, you just trick git into thinking the files belong to the main repository while having the respective sub-dirs remain independent clones. Doing that is simple:

$ cd my-project
$ git clone <subproject-url> my-subproject
$ git add my-subproject/

The important part is the “/” (slash) at the end of the last command. If you omit that, git will automatically assume you want to add ‘my-subproject’ as a submodule. But if you don’t, git just sees the files in the sub-directory and ignores that fact that its a git-repo of its own.

The cool thing is that you can now update a fake sub-module to the latest version as simple as:

$ cd my-subproject
$ git pull

This works because when you are inside my-subproject, git uses the ‘.git’ folder closest to it which is my-subproject/.git. If the sub project is your own, you could even push your changes to it upstream without changing projects.

You can read the original post and discussion here.

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