Project forking workflow (FREE)

Whenever possible, it's recommended to work in a common Git repository and use branching strategies to manage your work. However, if you do not have write access for the repository you want to contribute to, you can create a fork.

A fork is a personal copy of the repository and all its branches, which you create in a namespace of your choice. This way you can make changes in your own fork and submit them through a merge request to the repository you don't have access to.

Creating a fork

To fork an existing project in GitLab:

  1. On the project's home page, in the top right, select {fork} Fork: Fork this project
  2. Optional. Edit the Project name.
  3. For Project URL, select the namespace your fork should belong to.
  4. Add a Project slug. This value becomes part of the URL to your fork. It must be unique in the namespace.
  5. Optional. Add a Project description.
  6. Select the Visibility level for your fork. For more information about visibility levels, read Project and group visibility.
  7. Select Fork project.

GitLab creates your fork, and redirects you to the new fork's page.

Repository mirroring

You can use repository mirroring to keep your fork synced with the original repository. You can also use git remote add upstream to achieve the same result.

The main difference is that with repository mirroring, your remote fork is automatically kept up-to-date.

Without mirroring, to work locally you must use git pull to update your local repository with the upstream project, then push the changes back to your fork to update it.

WARNING: With mirroring, before approving a merge request, you are asked to sync. We recommend you automate it.

Read more about How to keep your fork up to date with its origin.

Merging upstream

When you are ready to send your code back to the upstream project, create a merge request. For Source branch, choose your forked project's branch. For Target branch, choose the original project's branch.

NOTE: When creating a merge request, if the forked project's visibility is more restrictive than the parent project (for example the fork is private, the parent is public), the target branch defaults to the forked project's default branch. This prevents potentially exposing the private code of the forked project.

Selecting branches

Then you can add labels, a milestone, and assign the merge request to someone who can review your changes. Then select Submit merge request to conclude the process. When successfully merged, your changes are added to the repository and branch you're merging into.

Removing a fork relationship

You can unlink your fork from its upstream project in the advanced settings.