4 Ways to Ignore Files with Git

It’s Greek to me

While working on a pull request for Knockout-Validation, I had the most bizarre thing happen: after cloning the repository, git status told me that one of the files was already modified. It turned out to be the localized text strings for Greek. Considering that I had just cloned the repository and that I don’t speak any Greek, I was fairly certain I hadn’t actually changed the file. I tried to undo changes with git checkout Localization/el-GR.js, but the file was still checked out. It seemed impossible to ‘undo’ whatever mysterious change had happened.

Google failed me

After a few rounds of Google-fu, my best guess was that something had happened related to character encoding, and some strange interaction between Git and Windows caused Git to think the file had changed. The best advice I found on the matter was to make a copy of the file elsewhere, delete the file from the repository, check in the deletion, copy the file back, add the file to the repository, commit the add, then carry on with other work. However, since I’m making changes on someone else’s project, I didn’t want to get into a conversation with them about why I’m changing the encoding around on one of their internationalization files when I really wanted to work on changing how the min and max validators worked.

4 Ways to Ignore a File

While chatting with @deathbob and @jeremy6d about the matter, Bob brought up the idea of ignoring the file by adding it to .gitignore. A good idea, but doing so would then mean that I would check in an updated .gitignore, which other team members wouldn’t like (especially the one who contributed the greek translation). Additionally, .gitignore won’t ignore files that are already part of the repository, so adding the file to .gitignore didn’t work.

However, the crux of Bob’s idea - ignoring the file - was exactly what I needed. I wasn’t sure why the Greek translation file was messed up (probably something with my system), but if I could ignore the file then I could focus on that files I actually cared about and not get sidetracked.

It turns out that there are 4 ways to ignore files with Git, and one of them solved my problem.

  1. .gitignore
  2. Global .gitignore
  3. Repository Exclude
  4. Ignoring Versioned Files

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