Navigate Github Through the Command Line

Anytime you catch yourself repeating the same action over and over again, you should consider automating that process. In one particular case, I found myself frequently navigating to pull-request’s associated with the branch I was on. This action is rather tedious as I had to open a new tab on my browser and browse to the corresponding section on Github. I needed a new, quick and hassle free way to access the pull-request from the command line. And so, project github-cli was born.

My goal was not to replace Github’s GUI, in fact, I find it pretty decent, and I don’t want to do everything from the terminal. Furthermore, GUI’s are better suited for certain applications. Therefor, github-cli doesn’t create pull-requests, issues, etc., it only positions you inside Github’s own GUI to do so.


A way to navigate to specific sections from the command-line. github-cli is context aware and allows one to navigate to issues, commits, branches and pull-requests effortlessly.


For instance, let’s take the case I mentioned earlier: navigating to a pull-request that’s associated with a branch. Assume that we have repository example-repo, which has pull-request 11 associated with it. The pull-request, in turn, is based on branch example-branch.

If we are standing under said repository and branch example-repo, running the following command in the terminal:

samir ~/example-repo/ (example-branch) $ gh p

Will result in a new browser tab with URL

On the other hand, if there is no pull-request associated with the branch, you will be navigated to,

one click away from creating a pull-request.

There are a bunch of other commands used to quickly navigate Github; you can check them out at github-cli.

Lessons learned

  • Github treats all pull-requests as issues, whereas all issues are not pull-requests.
  • If no match is found grep exits with error code 1.
  • Pretty hard to write integration tests for these kinds of CLI programs!


For now, github-cli feels about 95 % feature complete. However, I’d like to add bash auto-completion and if I find myself repeating some task related to Github and the terminal, I’ll add it.