The Pug Automatic

Git pairing aliases, prompts and avatars

Written November 22, 2013. Tagged Git.

When we pair program at Barsoom, we've started making commits in both users' names.

This emphasizes shared ownership and makes commands like git blame and git shortlog -sn (commit counts) more accurate.

There are tools like hitch to help you commit as a pair, but I found it complex and buggy, and I've been happy with something simpler.


I just added some simple aliases to my Bash shell:

alias pair='echo "Committing as: `git config` <`git config`>"'
alias unpair="git config --remove-section user 2> /dev/null; echo Unpaired.; pair"

alias pairf="git config user.pair 'FF+HN' && git config 'Foo Fooson and Henrik Nyh' && git config ''; pair"
alias pairb="git config user.pair 'BB+HN' && git config 'Bar Barson and Henrik Nyh' && git config ''; pair"

pair tells me who I'm committing as. pairf will pair me up with Foo Fooson; pairb will pair me up with Bar Barson. unpair will unpair me.

All this is done via Git's own persistent per-repository configuration.

The emails use plus addressing, supported by Gmail and some others: ends up at

I recommend consistently putting the names in alphabetical order so the same pair is always represented the same way.

If you're quite promiscuous in your pairing, perhaps in a large team, the aliases will add up, and you may prefer something like hitch. But in a small team like ours, it's not an issue.


A killer feature of my solution, that doesn't seem built into hitch or other tools, is that it's easy to show in your prompt:

function __git_prompt {
[ `git config user.pair` ] && echo " (pair: `git config user.pair`)"

PS1="\W\$(__git_prompt)$ "

This will give you a prompt like ~/myproject (pair: FF+HN)$ when paired, or ~/myproject$ otherwise.


GitHub looks better if pairs have a user picture.

You just need to add a Gravatar for the pair's email address.

When we started committing as pairs, I toyed a little with generating pair images automatically. When Thoughtbot wrote about pair avatars yesterday, I was inspired to ship something.

So I released Pairicon, a tiny open source web app that uses the GitHub API and a free Cloudinary plan to generate pair avatars.

Try it out!