Adding git hooks

Juangui Jordán @jguixer

June 29th, 2021


This post shows how to use git hooks, to prevent commit or push under certain circumstances, and particularly how to version those git hooks.

Git hooks are a collection of triggers that are bound to git commands, like checkout, commit or push. They let you run a script before/after the git command is actually executed, and return an exit code. For git hooks that are exectued before, if the exit code is not zero, the git command will not be executed.

Git hooks must be used in a git versioned project, since they are just bash scripts living in your .git/hooks folder. There are both client side and server side hooks. In this post we will talk about client side hooks.

Client git hooks include:

  • Committing-Workflow Hooks. These are hooks that have to do with the committing process: pre-commit, prepare-commit-msg, commit-msg and post-commit.

  • Email Workflow Hooks. Used for an email-based workflow: applypatch-msg, pre-applypatch and post-applypatch.

  • Other Client Hooks. They include: pre-rebase, post-rewrite, post-checkout, post-merge, pre-push

I won't enter into details about what is the use of each hook. You can find more info on each individual hook purpose and triggering scenario on Customizing-Git-Hooks.

I will just mention an example. Some projects require by convention that the commit message includes a JIRA task name, so that the team members can easily track what commits were bound to which tasks in JIRA. If your JIRA task names include all a prefix like PROJ, that can be achieved with a pre-commit hook like this one:


if ! grep -qE "PROJ" "$MSG";then
    cat "$MSG"
    echo "Your commit message must contain the task name starting with 'PROJ'"
    exit 1

The script above returns a 1 if the commit message doesn't include the word PROJ in it, and that will prevent the commit to run. If the commit message includes it, like in "PROJ-202 - Refactored CSS styles", then the commit will take place.

You may be wondering, "ok, but how can I actually store the hooks in my git versioned project if they sit inside the .git folder", and that is actually impossible. You can not commit files inside that directory. You would need to tell each developer in your project to copy them, or have a script that copies the hooks, then tell everyone to run it. Not practical, uh?

Versioning git hooks in Javascript projects

In Javascript projects with a package.json we can use Husky to take care of git hooks and their versioning inside the project.

First of all, we must install Husky in the project:

npx husky-init && yarn

This will add a couple of things in package.json:

  • the husky dependency to our devDependencies section
  • a prepare script to our scripts section

The yarn part will install the dependencies and execute the prepare script. After that, a .husky directory will be created in the root of the project which contains a sample pre-commit hook, a .gitignore file and a _ folder with the script.

With that configuration you don't need to manually copy your hooks to .git/hooks folder: the script will take care of using the hooks sitting in the .husky folder.

You can now edit the sample pre-commit hook, delete it, or create new ones in the .husky folder, manually or via the bash npx husky add command. For instance, if we were to create a pre-push hook that runs lint and test we could just run:

npx husky add .husky/pre-push "yarn lint && yarn test"

The result will be something like:

. "$(dirname "$0")/_/"

yarn lint && yarn test

Versioning hooks in Maven Java projects

Now for Java projects managed by Maven with a pom.xml file, I couldn't find anything like Husky.

The best approach here was using the maven-resources-plugin to copy the hooks from a git-hooks source directory to the .git/hooks destination folder.

This is what I added to my build section in the pom.xml:


After that, calling the command mvn validate or any other maven command that calls validate, like package, will install the hooks in the first place.

Bypassing git hooks

What if we have a git hook that takes a lot of time to execute and gets into our way for everyday programming tasks? For instance, if we had a pre-commit hook that launched our unit tests and those tests took 30 minutes to run, then everytime we committed we would have to wait that much long. We might want to just run the tests on the last commit before the push, and not on every commit, to save us some time.

On such cases, we can bypass the git hooks, if we know what we are doing:

git commit --no-verify -m "An unverifed commit"


I hope this post helps you to integrate git hooks in your projects. They can help you enforce some policies and guidelines to improve quality standards on your team.


Photo by Anne Nygard on Unsplash.