Using vimdiff as a git mergetool can be pretty confusing - multiple windows and little explanation. This is a short tutorial which explains basic usage, and what the LOCAL, BASE, and REMOTE keywords mean. This implies that you have at least a little bit of basic vim knowledge (how to move, save, and switch between split windows). If you don’t, there’s a short article for you: Using vim for writing code. Some basic understanding of git and branching is required as well, obviously.
Prior to doing anything, you need to know how to set vimdiff as a git mergetool. That being said:
git config merge.tool vimdiff git config merge.conflictstyle diff3 git config mergetool.prompt false
This will set git as the default merge tool, will display a common ancestor while merging, and will disable the prompt to open the vimdiff.
Creating merge conflict
Let’s create a test situation. You are free to skip this part or you can work along with the tutorial.
mkdir zoo cd zoo git init vi animals.txt
Let’s add some animals:
cat dog octopus octocat
Save the file.
git add animals.txt git commit -m "Initial commit" git branch octodog git checkout octodog vi animals.txt # let's change octopus to octodog git add animals.txt git commit -m "Replace octopus with an octodog" git checkout master vi animals.txt # let's change octopus to octoman git add animals.txt git commit -m "Replace octopus with an octoman" git merge octodog # merge octodog into master
That’s where we get a merge error:
Auto-merging animals.txt CONFLICT (content): Merge conflict in animals.txt Automatic merge failed; fix conflicts and then commit the result.
Resolving merge conflict with vimdiff
Let’s resolve the conflict:
This looks terrifying at first, but let me explain what is going on.
From left to right, top to the bottom:
LOCAL – this is file from the current branch
BASE – common ancestor, how file looked before both changes
REMOTE – file you are merging into your branch
MERGED – merge result, this is what gets saved in the repo
Let’s assume that we want to keep the “octodog” change (from REMOTE). For that,
move to the MERGED file (
Ctrl + w, j), move your cursor to a merge conflict
area and then:
This gets the corresponding change from REMOTE and puts it in MERGED file. You can also:
:diffg RE " get from REMOTE :diffg BA " get from BASE :diffg LO " get from LOCAL
Save the file and quit (a fast way to write and quit multiple files is
git commit and you are all set!