Git and the Powershell ISE

This is one of those seemingly random posts. However, if you use the Git command line tools in the Windows Powershell ISE then this post is for you!

The Windows Git client expects the standard windows console host (conhost.exe) to be used and outputs “stuff” to the stderr stream – even when there is no error. Here’s an example of Git output to the error stream in cmd.exe:

Git in the Windows command prompt

And again in powershell.exe:

Git.exe in the Windows Powershell host

Notice that neither complains of any error. Now – what happens in the Powershell ISE console?

Git.exe in the Windows Powershell ISE host

That’s right folks, git.exe sends that we have successfully switched to the ‘test’ branch to the error stream. Luckily for us the Powershell ISE renders this nicely for us. Not.


This is where the PhatGit module helps out. PhatGit redirects output from the error stream to standard console output. This is rendered by the Powershell ISE console host and can be captured/manipulated etc. If an actual error is encountered then this is still sent to the error stream.

Clean Git.exe output in the Powershell ISE host

In the above screenshot the PhatGit module has been loaded and you can see the first Git command looks like we’d expect and is consistent with the output in the conhost.exe processes from cmd.exe and powershell.exe.

The second command demonstrates that errors are still bubbled up as you would normally expect.

Note: Just in case you’re wondering, “fat Git” is a British English non-complimentary phrase :).

Text Editors

It gets even more complicated – you knew that was coming right?!

Git also relies on external text editors when interactive actions such as merges and commits are performed. Unfortunately, console text editors such as VIM (the default) also rely on the conhost.exe process. If these editors get invoked, then the Powershell ISE console process may become unresponsive – if you don’t believe me try running the following command without PhatGit:

PhatGit without Git commit message

As you can see PhatGit traps known problematic Git commands and stops them hanging the console. The list of known commands easily can be extended but that will have to be another blog post.

Open Source

PhatGit is an open source project and you can find the project over on GitHub. If you would like contribute then get involved! Pull requests are gratefully received and if you find a bug or have any requests, log an issue.

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