Git: check if a folder changed

Joinville · April 11, 2019

Often I need to “do X only if files on some folder changed” or whatever. I always need to Google that or find it on old scripts…

This is a quick post for me to find on Google when I need it again and think “oh its me!".

Anyway, let's get into it!

The most cleanest way I found to do it is the following:

git diff --quiet HEAD $REF -- $DIR || echo changed

Note that git diff --quiet will exit 1 when there are changes. At first I though it was confusing, but it makes sense if you think “if no changes = exit 0, otherwise = exit 1”.

So, let's say you want to check if your current branch has changes in the folder foo when compared to master:

git diff --quiet HEAD master -- foo || 

You can also do that comparing with the previous tag, for example:

git diff --quiet HEAD "$(git describe --tags --abbrev=0 HEAD)" -- foo || 

You can use this to “deploy only changed folders” or “lint only changed files” or whatever else you can come up with.

Anyway, just a quick post/note.