Adding a new built-in

There are 4 things to do to add a built-in command implementation to Git:

  1. Define the implementation of the built-in command foo with signature:

    int cmd_foo(int argc, const char **argv, const char *prefix);
  2. Add the external declaration for the function to builtin.h.

  3. Add the command to the commands[] table defined in git.c. The entry should look like:

    { "foo", cmd_foo, <options> },

    where options is the bitwise-or of:


    If there is not a Git directory to work on, abort. If there is a work tree, chdir to the top of it if the command was invoked in a subdirectory. If there is no work tree, no chdir() is done.


    If there is a Git directory, chdir as per RUN_SETUP, otherwise, don’t chdir anywhere.


    If the standard output is connected to a tty, spawn a pager and feed our output to it.


    Make sure there is a work tree, i.e. the command cannot act on bare repositories. This only makes sense when RUN_SETUP is also set.

  4. Add builtin/foo.o to BUILTIN_OBJS in Makefile.

Additionally, if foo is a new command, there are 3 more things to do:

  1. Add tests to t/ directory.

  2. Write documentation in Documentation/git-foo.txt.

  3. Add an entry for git-foo to command-list.txt.

  4. Add an entry for /git-foo to .gitignore.

How a built-in is called

The implementation cmd_foo() takes three parameters, argc, argv, and `prefix. The first two are similar to what main() of a standalone command would be called with.

When RUN_SETUP is specified in the commands[] table, and when you were started from a subdirectory of the work tree, cmd_foo() is called after chdir(2) to the top of the work tree, and prefix gets the path to the subdirectory the command started from. This allows you to convert a user-supplied pathname (typically relative to that directory) to a pathname relative to the top of the work tree.

The return value from cmd_foo() becomes the exit status of the command.