Using branches

As we've explained in the previous page, your Admin panel's frontend is saved on Forest Admin servers. As a result, you can't version it. But don't worry, we've got you covered with some great tools!

What is a layout?

The notion of a branch cannot be explained without first explaining what a layout is.
A layout is all the settings that define your user interface (UI). In Forest Admin, there is 1 layout per environment and per team:
To manipulate your layouts, you will be using Forest CLI.

What is a branch?

A branch is a fork (i.e copy) of the layout of its origin environment. It is attached to your development environment.
The origin of a branch is either specified using the --origin option or selected when prompted otherwise). You should choose the environment you want to make some layout changes on.
Once you've created a branch, your layout will look exactly like the layout of its origin environment.

How do branches work?

Any layout change you make on your current branch using the Layout Editor ↗ will be saved on your current branch and will not affect its origin environment.
Imagine the following situation where you have 3 environments:
The branch my-branch is based on the production layout. Any changes made to it are saved in your branch's layout and can later be applied to it.
This also means that any changes made to the origin of your branch will instantly reflect on your branch.
For those familiar with git's rebase, this means you will never have to rebase your branch on its origin.

How do you create a branch?

To create a branch, you'll need to use Forest CLI. Make sure you've created your local development environment using the init command. Then, to create a branch named my-branch based on your production environment, simply run:
forest branch my-branch --origin production
Using kebab-case is recommended; however, should you want to use spaces in your branch name, don't forget to surround it with quotes, like so forest branch "my branch" --origin ....
To learn more about the branch command, please visit this page.

Checking your branch information

On your interface, you can check at all times what branch you are on and how many layout changes were made: they appear in the top banner. The X branches pushed information is relevant for remote environments only: it shows how many branches were already pushed onto it.
Your current branch will be displayed at the top.
To switch your current branch to another existing branch, check out the switch command.
Now that you've mastered branch creation and management, let's dive into the next step of the development workflow: deployment.