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 reference

Returns a single reference from your Git database.

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

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

The ref in the URL must be formatted as heads/branch, not just branch. For example, the call to get the data for a branch named skunkworkz/featureA would be:

GET /repos/:owner/:repo/git/refs/heads/skunkworkz/featureA
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"
  }
}

If the ref doesn't exist in the repository, but existing refs start with ref they will be returned as an array. For example, a call to get the data for a branch named feature, which doesn't exist, would return head refs including featureA and featureB which do.

GET /repos/:owner/:repo/git/refs/heads/feature
Status: 200 OK
[
  {
    "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"
    }
  }
]

If the ref doesn't match an existing ref or any prefixes a 404 will be returned.

GET /repos/:owner/:repo/git/refs/heads/feature-branch-that-no-longer-exists
Status: 404 Not Found
{
  "message": "Not Found",
  "documentation_url": "https://developer.github.com/v3"
}

Get all references

Returns an array of all the references from your Git database, including notes and stashes if they exist on the server. Anything in the namespace, not just heads and tags, though that would be the most common.

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

GET /repos/:owner/:repo/git/refs

You can also request a sub-namespace. For example, to get all the tag references, you can call:

GET /repos/:owner/:repo/git/refs/tags

For a full refs listing, you'll get something that looks like:

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/master",
    "node_id": "MDM6UmVmcmVmcy9oZWFkcy9tYXN0ZXI=",
    "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/refs/heads/master",
    "object": {
      "type": "commit",
      "sha": "aa218f56b14c9653891f9e74264a383fa43fefbd",
      "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/commits/aa218f56b14c9653891f9e74264a383fa43fefbd"
    }
  },
  {
    "ref": "refs/heads/gh-pages",
    "node_id": "MDM6UmVmcmVmcy9oZWFkcy9naC1wYWdlcw==",
    "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/refs/heads/gh-pages",
    "object": {
      "type": "commit",
      "sha": "612077ae6dffb4d2fbd8ce0cccaa58893b07b5ac",
      "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/commits/612077ae6dffb4d2fbd8ce0cccaa58893b07b5ac"
    }
  },
  {
    "ref": "refs/tags/v0.0.1",
    "node_id": "MDM6UmVmcmVmcy90YWdzL3YwLjAuMQ==",
    "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/refs/tags/v0.0.1",
    "object": {
      "type": "tag",
      "sha": "940bd336248efae0f9ee5bc7b2d5c985887b16ac",
      "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/git/tags/940bd336248efae0f9ee5bc7b2d5c985887b16ac"
    }
  }
]

Create a reference

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

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.

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

Example: Deleting a tag:

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

Response

Status: 204 No Content