Using Direnv to Automatically Manage Git Hooks
The recent release of npm@7 broke husky, my git hook management tool of
choice. When I was looking into why my git hooks had stopped working I came
across the docs for the next version of husky and saw that git hooks
will now be stored in a committed directory rather than inside
This got me thinking; do I really need husky? Surely there must be a simple
method to manage a directory of git hooks inside your repository. I want
something that's (mostly) automatic, safe, easy, and preferably uses tooling
I'm already familiar with (installing a global dependency just to manage git
hooks on a per-project basis is somewhat less than ideal).
As the title suggests, I am now using
direnv to manage my git hooks. What I
landed on was adding the following line to a
.envrc file in the root of my
git config --local core.hooksPath $PWD/.githooks
Now I just run
direnv allow and place whatever hooks I want in the
.githooks directory at the root of my project, e.g., an executable file at
How does this work?
I already use
direnv for other things. It's a really handy tool for
managing environment variables in a way that isn't tied to any specific
framework or implementation, and additionally makes environment modifications
available to all of your tooling. The trick is that
.envrc is more than just
a file which specifies variables for
direnv to export -- it's a shell
direnv executes inside of
bash (even if you use another
shell such as
git config call configures the current git
repository to look for hooks inside the
.githooks directory inside our
repository. Whereas most solutions involve symlinking or copying files into
.git/hooks, we just reconfigure each individual git repository to tell it
where to look for hooks.
direnv works automatically, so that makes this setup easy to use. It also
won't execute any
.envrc files without explicit permission, so it's safe.
direnv isn't tied to any specific framework or implementation, this
setup for git hooks works great for polyglot monorepos (e.g., several
microservices in a single git repository or multiple app implementations in a
What I really would have liked is some sort of environment variable to
git should look for hooks. This works just as well, though.
Note that passing
--local isn't actually necessary, as
git config is
--local by default, and
--global only if specified. That said, for this
purpose I do like passing
--local so our intentions are explicitly clear to
anyone reading our code.
I want it to be less automated!
I hear you. Running non-exports in your
.envrc isn't for everyone. If you
would prefer manual hook initialization for your project, or if you would just
like hooks to be opt-in, you can place the
git config call above into a shell
script or even a
Makefile like such:
.PHONY: hookshooks:git config --local core.hooksPath $(shell pwd)/.githooks
Now just have people run
make hooks and you're good to go!
direnv just may now be my favorite way to manage git hooks now! It's simple,
safe, framework-agnostic, and automatic. I haven't seen the
approach discussed much elsewhere, so even if you prefer something more manual,
hopefully this article was still helpful to you.