[

🎉

G2 Winter 2024 Report] Hatica Recognized as Momentum Leader with Best Estimated ROI!Read More ->

Tools2023-04-27

Pull Request vs Merge Request: Differences and Similarities

Explore the differences between Pull Requests and Merge Requests in software development. Learn how they streamline code changes for effective collaboration.
Pull Request vs Merge Request

In software development, Pull Requests and Merge Requests are commonly used mechanisms for managing changes to code repositories. While they serve a similar purpose, there are some key differences between the two.

Let's explore the benefits, and key differences between Pull Requests and Merge Requests to optimize development workflows.

What is a Pull Request?

A Pull Request is a feature of Git, a version control system used by many software development teams. It is a request made by a developer to merge changes they have made in their local branch to the main branch of the repository. The main branch is usually referred to as the "master" branch, although this can vary depending on the specific workflow being used.

Additionally, Pull Requests serve as a way to discuss the changes being made and provide feedback to the author. This helps to catch any bugs or issues before they become a part of the main codebase.

When a developer creates a Pull Request, they typically provide a summary of the changes made, as well as any relevant information about why the changes were made. Other developers on the team can then review the changes, ask questions, and provide feedback using the comments feature of the Pull Request. Once everyone is satisfied with the changes, the Pull Request can be merged into the main branch.

[Read more: Pull request Best Practices]

Let’s go over these examples:

Assume that you are working on a feature branch called "new-feature" and you want to merge it into the main branch, which is called "master". Here are the steps you can follow to create a Pull Request.

  • Commit your changes to the feature branch.
Commit your changes to the feature branch
  • Push your feature branch to the remote repository.
Push your feature branch to the remote repository
  • Go to the repository website, such as GitHub or GitLab, and create a new Pull Request by selecting your feature branch and the main branch to merge it into.
  • Add a title and description for the Pull Request, and submit it for review.
  • Other developers can review your changes and provide feedback in the comments section of the Pull Request.
  • Once the changes have been approved, you can merge the Pull Request into the main branch using the following command:
Merge the Pull Request into the main branch

What is a Merge Request?

Merge Requests are similar to Pull Requests in that they allow developers to propose changes to the main branch of a repository. However, Merge Requests are a feature of the GitLab platform, which is an alternative to GitHub. Like Pull Requests, Merge Requests allow developers to submit changes for review and feedback before they are merged into the main branch.

One key difference between Merge Requests and Pull Requests is the level of automation available. Merge Requests can be configured to require certain conditions to be met before they can be merged, such as passing automated tests or receiving a certain number of approvals from other developers. This helps to ensure that changes being made to the codebase are of high quality and will not introduce bugs or other issues.

Another difference between Merge Requests and Pull Requests is the terminology used. In GitLab, the main branch of a repository is typically referred to as the "default branch," whereas in Git it is commonly referred to as the "master" branch. Additionally, Merge Requests in GitLab are often used in conjunction with other features of the platform, such as Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines.
Assuming that you want to create a Merge Request for your changes.

[Read more: How to Master Merge Requests?]

Here are the steps you can follow:

  • Create a new branch from the default branch:
Creating a new branch from default branch
  • Commit your changes to the new branch.
Git commit
  • Push your changes to the remote repository.
Git push
  • Go to the GitLab website and create a new Merge Request by selecting your new branch and the default branch to merge it into.
  • Configure any necessary options for the Merge Request, such as requiring approvals or passing automated tests.
  • Once the changes have been approved, you can merge the Merge Request into the default branch using the GitLab website or the following command:
Merge the Merge Request into the default branch

Pull Requests And Merge Requests: Key Similarities and Differences

  1. Essential Purpose: Both Pull Requests and Merge Requests serve the purpose of proposing and reviewing code changes before they are integrated into the main codebase.
  2. Terminology: The primary difference lies in the terminology used by different version control systems. Git and GitHub primarily use "Pull Request," while GitLab and Bitbucket use "Merge Request."
  3. Workflow: The workflow and steps involved in both processes are largely similar. Contributors fork or clone the repository, create a branch, make changes, and then submit the request for review.
  4. Review and Discussion: Both mechanisms facilitate code review and discussions among team members, ensuring code quality and collaboration.
  5. Merging: The final step in both processes involves merging the proposed changes into the target branch once they are approved.

[ Read Related: Use Bitbucket Pipeline Pull Request Trigger ]

12 Key Benefits of Pull Requests and Merge Requests

The benefits of both Pull Requests and Merge Requests are numerous and contribute to efficient and collaborative software development processes:

  1. Code Quality: Pull Requests and Merge Requests encourage thorough code reviews, helping identify and rectify issues, and improving the overall quality and reliability of the codebase.
  2. Collaboration: These mechanisms foster collaboration among team members, as they provide a platform for discussion, feedback, and knowledge sharing about the proposed code changes.
  3. Knowledge Transfer: Pull Requests and Merge Requests facilitate the sharing of insights and techniques among developers, promoting learning and skill improvement within the team.
  4. Error Detection: The review process helps catch bugs, logical errors, and unintended consequences early in the development cycle, reducing the likelihood of issues reaching the main codebase.
  5. Version Control: By encapsulating changes within discrete branches and requests, these processes maintain a structured version history that aids in tracking changes and reverting if necessary.
  6. Code Consistency: Reviewers can ensure that code adheres to established coding standards and style guidelines, maintaining a consistent codebase.
  7. Conflict Resolution: During code reviews, conflicts can be identified and resolved before merging, preventing potential disruptions to the main codebase.
  8. Risk Mitigation: The controlled nature of Pull Requests and Merge Requests reduces the risk of introducing unstable or incomplete code into the main branch.
  9. Project Transparency: Developers and stakeholders can track the progress and status of code changes through the review and approval stages, promoting transparency in project management.
  10. Parallel Development: Multiple developers can work on different features concurrently, as Pull Requests and Merge Requests allow for isolated development branches to be integrated independently.
  11. Feedback Loop: Developers receive valuable feedback from peers, enhancing their understanding and encouraging continuous improvement.
  12. Auditing and Compliance: For regulated industries, these processes can aid in compliance by ensuring code changes are reviewed and documented.

Conclusion

In summary, Pull Requests and Merge Requests are both useful tools for managing changes to code repositories. While they serve a similar purpose, there are some key differences between the two, such as the level of automation available and the terminology used. Ultimately, the choice between using Pull Requests or Merge Requests will depend on the specific needs of the development team and the platform being used.

Subscribe to the Hatica blog today to read more about unblocking developers, and boosting productivity with engineering analytics. 

FAQs

What's the purpose of Pull Requests and Merge Requests?

Both Pull Requests and Merge Requests serve as a means to propose code changes, engage in code review, discuss improvements, and ensure the quality of code before it gets merged into the main branch.

How do Pull Requests and Merge Requests work?

Developers create a branch, make code changes, and then submit a request for review. Team members review the proposed changes, provide feedback, and engage in discussions. Once approved, the changes are merged into the main branch.

Can you merge code without a Pull Request or Merge Request?

While it's possible to directly push code to a branch, using Pull Requests or Merge Requests is recommended because they promote collaboration, enable code review, and help maintain a clean and organized codebase.

Subscribe to Hatica's blog

Get bi-weekly insights straight to your inbox

Share this article:
Table of Contents
  • What is a Pull Request?
  • What is a Merge Request?
  • Pull Requests And Merge Requests: Key Similarities and Differences
  • 12 Key Benefits of Pull Requests and Merge Requests
  • Conclusion
  • FAQs
  • What's the purpose of Pull Requests and Merge Requests?
  • How do Pull Requests and Merge Requests work?
  • Can you merge code without a Pull Request or Merge Request?

Ready to dive in? Start your free trial today

Overview dashboard from Hatica