Git References

A Git reference (git ref) is just a file that contains a Git commit SHA-1 hash. When referring to a Git commit, you can use the Git reference, which is an easy-to-remember name, rather than the hash. The Git reference can be rewritten to point to a new commit. A branch is just a Git reference that stores the new Git commit hash. These endpoints allow you to read and write references to your Git database on GitHub. See the Git Database API for more details.

Get a single reference

Returns a single reference from your Git database. The :ref in the URL must be formatted as heads/<branch name> for branches and tags/<tag name> for tags. If the :ref doesn't match an existing ref, a 404 is returned.

Note: You need to explicitly request a pull request to trigger a test merge commit, which checks the mergeability of pull requests. For more information, see "Checking mergeability of pull requests".

GET /repos/:owner/:repo/git/ref/:ref

Example

To get the reference for a branch named skunkworkz/featureA, the endpoint route is:

GET /repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/ref/heads/skunkworkz/featureA

Response

Status: 200 OK
{
  "ref": "refs/heads/featureA",
  "node_id": "MDM6UmVmcmVmcy9oZWFkcy9mZWF0dXJlQQ==",
  "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/refs/heads/featureA",
  "object": {
    "type": "commit",
    "sha": "aa218f56b14c9653891f9e74264a383fa43fefbd",
    "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/commits/aa218f56b14c9653891f9e74264a383fa43fefbd"
  }
}

List matching references

Returns an array of references from your Git database that match the supplied name. The :ref in the URL must be formatted as heads/<branch name> for branches and tags/<tag name> for tags. If the :ref doesn't exist in the repository, but existing refs start with :ref, they will be returned as an array.

When you use this endpoint without providing a :ref, it will return an array of all the references from your Git database, including notes and stashes if they exist on the server. Anything in the namespace is returned, not just heads and tags.

Note: You need to explicitly request a pull request to trigger a test merge commit, which checks the mergeability of pull requests. For more information, see "Checking mergeability of pull requests".

GET /repos/:owner/:repo/git/matching-refs/:ref

Example

If you request matching references for a branch named feature but the branch feature doesn't exist, the response can still include other matching head refs that start with the word feature, such as featureA and featureB.

GET /repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/matching-refs/heads/feature

Response

Status: 200 OK
Link: <https://api.github.com/resource?page=2>; rel="next",
      <https://api.github.com/resource?page=5>; rel="last"
[
  {
    "ref": "refs/heads/feature-a",
    "node_id": "MDM6UmVmcmVmcy9oZWFkcy9mZWF0dXJlLWE=",
    "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/refs/heads/feature-a",
    "object": {
      "type": "commit",
      "sha": "aa218f56b14c9653891f9e74264a383fa43fefbd",
      "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/commits/aa218f56b14c9653891f9e74264a383fa43fefbd"
    }
  },
  {
    "ref": "refs/heads/feature-b",
    "node_id": "MDM6UmVmcmVmcy9oZWFkcy9mZWF0dXJlLWI=",
    "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/refs/heads/feature-b",
    "object": {
      "type": "commit",
      "sha": "612077ae6dffb4d2fbd8ce0cccaa58893b07b5ac",
      "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/commits/612077ae6dffb4d2fbd8ce0cccaa58893b07b5ac"
    }
  }
]

Create a reference

Creates a reference for your repository. You are unable to create new references for empty repositories, even if the commit SHA-1 hash used exists. Empty repositories are repositories without branches.

POST /repos/:owner/:repo/git/refs

Parameters

Name Type Description
ref string Required. The name of the fully qualified reference (ie: refs/heads/master). If it doesn't start with 'refs' and have at least two slashes, it will be rejected.
sha string Required. The SHA1 value for this reference.

Input

{
  "ref": "refs/heads/featureA",
  "sha": "aa218f56b14c9653891f9e74264a383fa43fefbd"
}

Response

Status: 201 Created
Location: https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/refs/heads/featureA
{
  "ref": "refs/heads/featureA",
  "node_id": "MDM6UmVmcmVmcy9oZWFkcy9mZWF0dXJlQQ==",
  "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/refs/heads/featureA",
  "object": {
    "type": "commit",
    "sha": "aa218f56b14c9653891f9e74264a383fa43fefbd",
    "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/commits/aa218f56b14c9653891f9e74264a383fa43fefbd"
  }
}

Update a reference

PATCH /repos/:owner/:repo/git/refs/:ref

Parameters

Name Type Description
sha string Required. The SHA1 value to set this reference to
force boolean Indicates whether to force the update or to make sure the update is a fast-forward update. Leaving this out or setting it to false will make sure you're not overwriting work. Default: false

Input

{
  "sha": "aa218f56b14c9653891f9e74264a383fa43fefbd",
  "force": true
}

Response

Status: 200 OK
{
  "ref": "refs/heads/featureA",
  "node_id": "MDM6UmVmcmVmcy9oZWFkcy9mZWF0dXJlQQ==",
  "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/refs/heads/featureA",
  "object": {
    "type": "commit",
    "sha": "aa218f56b14c9653891f9e74264a383fa43fefbd",
    "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/commits/aa218f56b14c9653891f9e74264a383fa43fefbd"
  }
}

Delete a reference

DELETE /repos/:owner/:repo/git/refs/:ref

Example deleting a branch

DELETE /repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/refs/heads/feature-a

Response

Status: 204 No Content

Example deleting a tag

DELETE /repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/refs/tags/v1.0

Response

Status: 204 No Content