Android Tips and Guides

GitHub’s easy to use command line tool: “gh”!

If you have been using GitHub and preferring the command line like me to get everything done without any complications on GUI, you might have noticed how GitHub started to utilize their not-so-new tool called “gh”. I decided to give it a shot, because it looked promising after all. And I personally liked it a lot – So much that I wanted to make an article about it!

Before we begin though, I need to explain several terms I’ll be using in this article.

“GH” stands for “GitHub”. This is where the tool’s name originates from as well, so it can’t be confused with Git itself. To explain what it does in general, you can create, fork, delete, browse repos; create pull requests; and many more. In case you can’t find a feature but also don’t want to leave terminal, it also provides a text-based browser for you to browse pages in GitHub.

“CLI” stands for “Command Line Interface”. That Terminal (or in Windows, Command Prompt) is one of them. If there’s a “CLI” appended next to an app name (“Git CLI” for this article), it means the app runs through terminal only. And “Git CLI” in this context is, well, the Git we know. Like the command we make commits or rebases with.

GUI stands for “Graphical User Interface” and it’s the interface we “navigate” on. Better said, a desktop environment in general is a GUI.

An “API key” is some kind of a secret string/file you use to authenticate to services. Beware that it bypasses 2 factor authentication and so on when you authenticate with it. So make sure to keep them safe and somewhere that’s out of reach by other means.

First of all, what is this tool? How does it handle operations we would do through Git CLI?

“gh” can be considered as an open source (Source Code) wrapper utilizing Git CLI itself and GitHub APIs to get things done. In fact, you can even pass parameters to the Git commands it uses! I’ll get into those later on.

Installing and setting up

Keep in mind that I’ll go through the installation using Termux. But the procedure should be pretty much the same as you could have on a Debian-based distro – Ubuntu has it on their official repos for example. For Windows, well, you need either CygWin or WSL I suppose. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

# Let's install the tool first. Also installing Git as it's the backend
# for gh.
$ pkg install git gh -y

# Then before everything, we need to authenticate. This will save a
# new API key on the tool's database so you won't need to authenticate
# again. If you have already set GITHUB_TOKEN, this won't work so unset
# it first. :)
$ gh auth login

Now, before we continue here, I need to point out several things.

  • Firstly, don’t choose “GitHub Enterprise Server” if you don’t have some kind of self-hosted GitHub.
  • Secondly, use SSH instead of HTTPS if you have your public key added on your GitHub account. In case you lose the API key, you at least won’t lose your SSH key so it can be a good fallback method as well.
  • Thirdly, choose logging in with browser only if you don’t have an API key on hand! Really, it wouldn’t make sense to have another key while you already have one.

Once you’re done setting things up, let’s tell Git CLI about it.

$ gh auth setup-git

This will make the necessary Git CLI configurations just in case your reflexes barge in and make you use Git instead of GH.

Some basic commands

Now that you’ve set up GH, let me teach you several basic commands in a story basis.

First of all, let’s say you want to create a pull request to my local manifests repo. You want to fork it first.

$ gh repo fork windowz414/platform_manifest
! windowz414/platform_manifest already exists
? Would you like to clone the fork? Yes
Cloning into 'platform_manifest'...
remote: Enumerating objects: 136, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (136/136), done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (81/81), done.
remote: Total 136 (delta 46), reused 89 (delta 12), pack-reused 0
Receiving objects: 100% (136/136), 30.70 KiB | 166.00 KiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (46/46), done.
Updating upstream
From github.com:windowz414/platform_manifest
 * [new branch]      amyrom/rosie      -> upstream/amyrom/rosie
 * [new branch]      aosp-eleven       -> upstream/aosp-eleven
 * [new branch]      aosp-ten          -> upstream/aosp-ten
 * [new branch]      arrow-11.0        -> upstream/arrow-11.0
 * [new branch]      cm-14.1           -> upstream/cm-14.1
 * [new branch]      dot11             -> upstream/dot11
 * [new branch]      e/os/v1-nougat    -> upstream/e/os/v1-nougat
 * [new branch]      fluid-11          -> upstream/fluid-11
 * [new branch]      fox_7.1           -> upstream/fox_7.1
 * [new branch]      hentai-rika       -> upstream/hentai-rika
 * [new branch]      ion-pie           -> upstream/ion-pie
 * [new branch]      lineage-15.1      -> upstream/lineage-15.1
 * [new branch]      lineage-17.1      -> upstream/lineage-17.1
 * [new branch]      lineage-18.1      -> upstream/lineage-18.1
 * [new branch]      lineage-18.1_teos -> upstream/lineage-18.1_teos
 * [new branch]      lineage-19.0      -> upstream/lineage-19.0
 * [new branch]      main              -> upstream/main
 * [new branch]      mkn-mr1           -> upstream/mkn-mr1
 * [new branch]      revengeos-r11.0   -> upstream/revengeos-r11.0
 * [new branch]      stellar-S1        -> upstream/stellar-S1
 * [new branch]      teos-n            -> upstream/teos-n
 * [new branch]      weebprojekt-11    -> upstream/weebprojekt-11
✓ Cloned fork

Then let’s say you have a separate organization for your experiments called “wz414-labs”, that you didn’t fork on your personal profile yet and want to clone there then open pull request through there instead. You also want to clone the “cm-14.1” branch so you won’t need to do git-checkout to it again.

$ gh repo fork windowz414/platform_manifest --org="wz414-labs" -- --branch="cm-14.1"
✓ Created fork wz414-labs/platform_manifest
? Would you like to clone the fork? Yes
Cloning into 'platform_manifest'...
remote: Enumerating objects: 136, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (136/136), done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (81/81), done.
remote: Total 136 (delta 46), reused 89 (delta 12), pack-reused 0
Receiving objects: 100% (136/136), 30.70 KiB | 120.00 KiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (46/46), done.
Updating upstream
From github.com:windowz414/platform_manifest
 * [new branch]      amyrom/rosie      -> upstream/amyrom/rosie
 * [new branch]      aosp-eleven       -> upstream/aosp-eleven
 * [new branch]      aosp-ten          -> upstream/aosp-ten
 * [new branch]      arrow-11.0        -> upstream/arrow-11.0
 * [new branch]      cm-14.1           -> upstream/cm-14.1
 * [new branch]      dot11             -> upstream/dot11
 * [new branch]      e/os/v1-nougat    -> upstream/e/os/v1-nougat
 * [new branch]      fluid-11          -> upstream/fluid-11
 * [new branch]      fox_7.1           -> upstream/fox_7.1
 * [new branch]      hentai-rika       -> upstream/hentai-rika
 * [new branch]      ion-pie           -> upstream/ion-pie
 * [new branch]      lineage-15.1      -> upstream/lineage-15.1
 * [new branch]      lineage-17.1      -> upstream/lineage-17.1
 * [new branch]      lineage-18.1      -> upstream/lineage-18.1
 * [new branch]      lineage-18.1_teos -> upstream/lineage-18.1_teos
 * [new branch]      lineage-19.0      -> upstream/lineage-19.0
 * [new branch]      main              -> upstream/main
 * [new branch]      mkn-mr1           -> upstream/mkn-mr1
 * [new branch]      revengeos-r11.0   -> upstream/revengeos-r11.0
 * [new branch]      stellar-S1        -> upstream/stellar-S1
 * [new branch]      teos-n            -> upstream/teos-n
 * [new branch]      weebprojekt-11    -> upstream/weebprojekt-11
✓ Cloned fork

You see I didn’t use “-b cm-14.1” and did the long argument instead. As of the date of this article, February 16, 2022, GH has a bug that it doesn’t pass short arguments to Git CLI correctly and so it needs to be done as long arguments instead.

Once that is done, you regularly entered the folder, did your changes, committed then pushed it, and are ready to do pull request. For this, all you need is a simple

$ gh pr create --branch="cm-14.1"

Creating pull request for wz414-labs:cm-14.1 into cm-14.1 in windowz414/platform_manifest

? Title teos: Change to Git-Polycule
? Body <Received>
? What's next? Submit
https://github.com/windowz414/platform_manifest/pull/1

If you don’t append “–branch=cm-14.1”, you would be creating PR towards “main” branch, which of course will cause issues when it’s not handled right.

And now, I need to merge this PR, right? So I first clone the repo, checkout to the branch assigned, and list PRs first.

# Cloning first.

$ git clone https://github.com/windowz414/platform_manifest
Cloning into 'platform_manifest'...
remote: Enumerating objects: 136, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (136/136), done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (81/81), done.
remote: Total 136 (delta 46), reused 89 (delta 12), pack-reused 0
Receiving objects: 100% (136/136), 30.70 KiB | 137.00 KiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (46/46), done.

# Then checking out to the branch.

$ git checkout cm-14.1
branch 'cm-14.1' set up to track 'origin/cm-14.1'.
Switched to a new branch 'cm-14.1'

# And now listing PRs.

$ gh pr list

Showing 1 of 1 open pull request in windowz414/platform_manifest

#1  teos: Change to Git-Polycule  wz414-labs:cm-14.1

Now that we see there’s a PR to change remote to “Git-Polycule”, let’s see what has changed with it.

$ gh pr diff 1
diff --git a/teos.xml b/teos.xml
index b145fc0..3aadeb6 100644
--- a/teos.xml
+++ b/teos.xml
@@ -2,7 +2,7 @@
 <manifest>

   <remote  name="windowz414"
-           fetch="https://github.com/windowz414/"
+           fetch="https://git.polycule.co/windowz414/"
            revision="cm-14.1" />

   <!-- DEVICE TREES

Seems promising! Time to merge!

$ gh pr merge 1
? What merge method would you like to use? Rebase and merge
? What's next? Submit
✓ Rebased and merged pull request #1 (teos: Change to Git-Polycule)

Now that I merged it, you can delete your fork.

$ gh repo delete --confirm wz414-labs/platform_manifest
✓ Deleted repository wz414-labs/platform_manifest

You see that straight up deleted the repo with no confirmation request because I passed the “–confirm” parameter there. If you wouldn’t pass it, you would get this:

$ gh repo delete windowz414/systemd
? Type windowz414/systemd to confirm deletion:

And you would need to type the whole repo name. Time waste…

Summary

Simply put, `gh` is a pretty simplified Git CLI/Curl wrapper unifying simple Git operations and GitHub API things under the same roof. How do you utilize it? Does it look promising to you like it does to me? Looking forward to hear from you!

Don't miss out