Ensure gitignore ignores files correctly

Introduction

In this tutorial we’ll take a look at how to get gitignore to ignore files correctly when it seems that it is not ignoring the files that you have specified in the .gitignore file.

Let’s examine why this would happen.

gitignore will only ignore files that are not currently under source control. This means that if a file was committed before it was added to the .gitignore file, it will continue to track the changes of this file.

This is the basic principle of how gitignore works.

It is good practise to always update your .gitignore file before you commit any files that you do not want or need under source control. These files are commonly binaries, executables or any generated files that are automatically created when you build a project.

There may be cases where unwanted code is checked-in by mistake with the inital commit or subsequent commits. This is when our described problem will arise. No matter how many times you try to specify the file in the .gitignore file, it will always remain in the staging area.

Prerequisite Knowledge Assumed

The below resolution example makes use of the following software’s

  • git
  • git extensions

If you are unfamiliar with git extensions, there is a section right at the bottom that contains just the git commits that are required to resolve the problem.

Resolution

Steps that are required to resolve this problem:

  1. Remove the files that you do not want tracked by source control, from git
    1. You can do this by running “git rm -r –cached file/s
  2. Commit these removed files
  3. Update .gitignore file
  4. Commit .gitignore file

Let’s walk through the following example to expand exactly what you need to do for each

You’ve got a new repo that has just been created. You’re super excited about your new repo and this is the view that you have in git extensions:

When you go to commit you see the following:

From here you decide to stage all the files without adding the files in the bin folder to the .gitignore file.

So you stage all the files and hit commit.

Changes have now been made to your normal.code file and as a result the auto.gen file has been updated. When you go to the commit screen you now see the following:

At this point you realise that you don’t want the auto.gen file or any files from the bin directory to be committed to source control. When you try to add the bin directory to the .gitignore file it doesn’t seem to work, since the staging area looks like the image below:

Point 1 implemented

This is where you will need to implement point 1 (as discussed above).

To do this, open git bash and navigate to the repo.

Once here, run the following command:

See image below:

As you can see, the two files in the bin directory were removed.

When we return to git extensions and refresh the staging area we see the following:

As you can see from the above image, the two bin files have been marked as “deleted“. The files have not physically been deleted. They have simply been removed from git’s tracking.

Point 2 implemented

Now we need to commit these removed files so that git will no longer track changes made to these files

After you have committed these files your git extension will look something like this:

Point 3 implemented

You can now update the .gitignore file to add any additional files that you would like to ignore. For the purpose of these example, we do not need to add any more contents to the .gitignore file as we have already specified all the bin files in the .gitignore file.

Point 4 implemented

You can now commit the .gitignore file and git will never track any files in the bin folder.

Simple git commands to resolve

If you are unfirmaliar with git extensions you can simply execute the following git commands to resolve the problem:

See the below images for the full example

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