In this post I’m going to write about the fork-clone-pull that we’ve been using for some time now at work.

To begin with, the Fork workflow (just workflow from now on) extend Github’s Workflow and adds forking to the mix..

And why do that?

Several benefits.

  • You don’t need to give everyone write access to the central repository
  • It keeps the central repository “clean” (arguable..) by not polluting it with developers' feature branches
  • Developers can form subteams (by adding other dev’s clone as a remote) (useful for collaborating, pair-programming etc.)
  • Enforce review guidelines by limiting direct write access
  • Very useful for remote teams (personal experience..)

Convinced? nice! read ahead to know more about how to implement..


  • Organsiation admins [1] (or users with write access) start by creating the central repository (the upstream)
  • Members than fork the upstream under their own account (the origin for that dev)
  • The developers than start by cloning their respective origin (each dev has complete access over their forks) and add the upstream remote
git clone
git remote add upstream
  • One can then follow the git branching workflow that they are already familiar with.
git checkout -b feature/the-next-big-stuff
  • Once they’ve started working on the feature, they can push it up to their fork.
git push -u origin HEAD
  • Once they’ve pushed the code to origin, they can then open a Pull Request to the upstream where the project owner / maintainer can review the code and merge it (or suggest any changes)

Keeping the code in sync

When multiple developers are working on a project it’s very likely that the upstream would move much faster than the devs' origin. In that case, the dev would need to periodically (ideally, they should do it daily) sync their origin with the upstream.

To do that, devs need to execute following (on their local machine) -

# fetch upstream and all branches
> git fetch upstream
# checkout local or own develop
> git checkout develop
# get the changes from the upstream and merge to your local.
> git merge upstream/develop
# push the code to the develop branch of your fork
> git push origin develop

The devs should also execute ☝️ once they’ve their PR merged.

And that’s it! you’ve got a scalable git workflow model that would work well even for remote teams (we’ve used it quite extensively!)..

And just to make it clear.. we are not the first ones who’ve used this or anything like that 😛.. this flow is used extensively in open-source world where generally there is a central upstream canonical repository (where all issues are made and project is released) and each contributor has his/her own “fork” of that repository. The beauty of this flow is that it scales so well even for a highly distributed open source project!