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  • Writer's pictureQuinne Farenwald

Managing xcuserstate in Xcode: Stop Git Tracking for a Smoother Workflow

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Xcode, Apple's integrated development environment, provides a seamless environment for iOS and macOS app development. However, as developers, we often encounter files specific to our local configurations. One such file is UserInterfaceState.xcuserstate. In this blog post, we'll delve into what this file is, why it's okay to stop tracking it in Git, and how you can do so.


What is UserInterfaceState.xcuserstate?

UserInterfaceState.xcuserstate is a file generated by Xcode to store user-specific user interface (UI) state information for an Xcode project. It resides within the xcuserdata directory, capturing details such as the open/closed state of panels, window positions, and other UI-related settings. Essentially, it remembers how you've personalized your Xcode workspace.


Why Stop Tracking it in Git?

  1. Personalization and Local Settings: This file captures personalization choices, and these preferences can vary among developers. By not tracking it in Git, each developer can have their own local copy with settings tailored to their workflow.

  2. Avoiding Unnecessary Conflicts: Since UI state preferences are specific to individuals, including this file in version control can lead to unnecessary conflicts. Ignoring it allows each developer to manage their personal settings independently.

  3. Reducing Repository Clutter: Excluding UserInterfaceState.xcuserstate from version control helps keep the repository cleaner. Developers can focus on versioning code and project files without including user-specific configuration details.


How to Stop Tracking UserInterfaceState.xcuserstate in Git Using .gitignore:

  1. Update .gitignore: Open or create the .gitignore file in your project's root directory.

  2. Add a Rule to Ignore xcuserstate Files: Insert the following line to the .gitignore file:

    1. *.xcuserstate

  3. Save Changes and Commit: Save the .gitignore file and commit it to your Git repository.

  4. Remove Tracked xcuserstate Files (if already committed): If the UserInterfaceState.xcuserstate file has been committed before, you might want to remove it from the repository. Use the following command:

    1. git rm --cached path/to/UserInterfaceState.xcuserstate

  5. Commit the Removal: After removing the file from tracking, commit the changes to the repository.


How to Stop Tracking UserInterfaceState.xcuserstate in Git Using --assume-unchanged:

  1. The command git update-index --assume-unchanged is used to inform Git that you want to treat a particular file as if it's unchanged, even if it has been modified. In your specific example:

    1. git update-index --assume-unchanged path/to/UserInterfaceState.xcuserstate


This command is telling Git to treat the file located at path/to/UserInterfaceState.xcuserstate as unchanged, even if there are modifications to it.

Here's a breakdown of the components:

  • git update-index: This command is used to manipulate the index, which is a staging area where changes are prepared before committing.

  • --assume-unchanged: This option tells Git to assume that the file has not been changed, even if it has been modified locally. It's a way to skip checking the file for changes when performing certain Git operations.

  • The path to the file: Specifies the file for which you want to set the "assume unchanged" flag.


If you ever need to start tracking changes to the file again, you can use the --no-assume-unchanged option:

a. git update-index --no-assume-unchanged path/to/UserInterfaceState.xcuserstate


Which Method To Use?

Whether to use git update-index --assume-unchanged or update the .gitignore file depends on your specific use case and preferences. Here's a comparison to help you decide:


git update-index --assume-unchanged:

  • Pros:

  • Quick solution for ignoring local changes.

  • Doesn't affect other developers; it's a personal setting.

  • Cons:

  • Changes made by others may lead to conflicts.

  • Risk of forgetting to commit important changes in the file.


.gitignore:

  • Pros:

  • Explicitly communicates to Git that the file should be ignored.

  • Applies to all developers, ensuring consistency.

  • Avoids potential conflicts due to local assumptions.

  • Cons:

  • The file might still appear as modified until Git sees the .gitignore change.

  • Requires a commit to update the .gitignore file.


Recommendation:

  • If the UserInterfaceState.xcuserstate file is truly user-specific and should not be tracked by Git, updating the .gitignore file is a cleaner and more widely accepted solution.

  • If you find that the file is frequently modified for legitimate reasons and you want to avoid constant notifications about local changes, you might consider using git update-index --assume-unchanged temporarily. However, use this cautiously and be aware of its limitations.


Conclusion: In the collaborative world of software development, understanding the purpose of files like UserInterfaceState.xcuserstate and managing them appropriately is crucial. By stopping its tracking in Git, developers can maintain a clean and conflict-free version control history, allowing for a smoother collaboration experience. Personalizing your Xcode environment is essential, and by following these steps, you can strike a balance between versioning code and respecting individual preferences.

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