From: "Jonathan Nieder" <>
Philip Oakley wrote:

The problem is the file format, in the sense that the earlier `git cat-file commit $orig` has a human readable output which is a description of the
commit header, rather than the specific binary content.

Ah.  That's the actual "raw" commit object format, though.

Aha.. Sudden realisation that the cat-file _is_ the 'raw' format and that the sha1's etc are shown in ascii hex, rather than being in a compact binary format (same for 'unix' dates etc.)

So the 'human readable' output is exactly the 'type_name' field followed by a single space (SP) followed by the sha1 in ascii hex (i.e. tree/parent), or appropriate data in the well defined format (for author/committer) SP 'email' SP date. etc.

It was the Human readable == Machine readable that I'd missed.

The manpage for git-cat-file(1) says:

git cat-file (-t | -s | -e | -p | <type> | --textconv ) <object>
git cat-file (--batch | --batch-check) < <list-of-objects>

In its first form, the command provides the content or the
type of an object in the repository. [...]

If <type> is specified, the raw (though uncompressed)
contents of the <object> will be returned.

I agree that this isn't as clear as it should be. I see a few problems:

(1) The synopsis treats "git cat-file -t/-s/-e/-p <object>",
    "git cat-file --textconv <tree>:<path>", and
    "git cat-file <type> <object>" as the same form of the command.
    It would be easier to explain these as three different forms.

(2) There is no EXAMPLES section and no examples.

(3) There is no pointer to the git object formats.  A pointer to a
    new gitobject(5) manpage would presumably make everything clearer.
might be a good source of text to start from for solving (1), since
it explains the command a little better.

A quick run of the example "git cat-file commit HEAD", seen in the context of your email helped me appreciate the situation.


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