GitLab Web Editor

Sometimes it's easier to make quick changes directly from the GitLab interface than to clone the project and use the Git command line tool. In this feature highlight we look at how you can create a new file, directory, branch or tag from the file browser. All of these actions are available from a single dropdown menu.

Create a file

From a project's files page, click the '+' button to the right of the branch selector. Choose New file from the dropdown.

New file dropdown menu

Enter a file name in the File name box. Then, add file content in the editor area. Add a descriptive commit message and choose a branch. The branch field will default to the branch you were viewing in the file browser. If you enter a new branch name, a checkbox will appear allowing you to start a new merge request after you commit the changes.

When you are satisfied with your new file, click Commit Changes at the bottom.

Create file editor

Template dropdowns

When starting a new project, there are some common files which the new project might need too. Therefore a message will be displayed by GitLab to make this easy for you.

First file for your project

When clicking on either LICENSE or .gitignore, etc., a dropdown will be displayed to provide you with a template which might be suitable for your project.

MIT license selected

The license, changelog, contribution guide, or .gitlab-ci.yml file could also be added through a button on the project page. In the example below, the license has already been created, which creates a link to the license itself.

New file button

Note: The Set up CI/CD button will not appear on an empty repository. You have to at least add a file in order for the button to show up.

Upload a file

The ability to create a file is great when the content is text. However, this doesn't work well for binary data such as images, PDFs or other file types. In this case you need to upload a file.

From a project's files page, click the '+' button to the right of the branch selector. Choose Upload file from the dropdown.

Upload file dropdown menu

Once the upload dialog pops up there are two ways to upload your file. Either drag and drop a file on the pop up or use the click to upload link. A file preview will appear once you have selected a file to upload.

Enter a commit message, choose a branch, and click Upload file when you are ready.

Upload file dialog

Create a directory

To keep files in the repository organized it is often helpful to create a new directory.

From a project's files page, click the plus button (+) to the right of the branch selector. Choose New directory from the dropdown.

New directory dropdown

In the new directory dialog enter a directory name, a commit message and choose the target branch. Click Create directory to finish.

New directory dialog

Create a new branch

There are multiple ways to create a branch from GitLab's web interface.

Create a new branch from an issue

Introduced in GitLab 8.6.

If your development workflow dictates to have an issue for every merge request, you can quickly create a branch directly from the issue to speed the process up. The new branch, and later its merge request, will be marked as related to this issue. Once merged, the MR will automatically close the issue. You can see a Create merge request dropdown below the issue description.

NOTE: Note: You won't see the Create merge request button if there is already a branch with the same name or a referenced merge request or your project has an active fork relationship. If you would like to make this button appear, a possible workaround is to remove your project's fork relationship. Once removed, the fork relationship cannot be restored and you will no longer be able to send merge requests to the source.

Create Button

This dropdown contains the options Create merge request and branch and Create branch.

New Branch Button

Once you choose one of these options, a new branch or branch and merge request will be created, based on the default branch of your project, by default master. The branch name will be based on the title of the issue and as a prefix, it will have its internal ID. Thus, the example screenshot above will create a branch named 2-make-static-site-auto-deploy-and-serve.

When you click the Create branch button in an empty repository project, GitLab automatically creates a master branch, commits a blank file to it, and creates and redirects you to a new branch based on the issue title. If your project is already configured with a deployment service, such as Kubernetes, GitLab takes one step further and prompts you to set up auto deploy by helping you create a .gitlab-ci.yml file.

After the branch is created, you can edit files in the repository to fix the issue. When a merge request is created based on the newly created branch, the description field will automatically display the issue closing pattern Closes #ID, where ID the ID of the issue. This will close the issue once the merge request is merged.

Create a new branch from a project's dashboard

If you want to make changes to several files before creating a new merge request, you can create a new branch up front. From a project's files page, choose New branch from the dropdown.

New branch dropdown

Enter a new Branch name. Optionally, change the Create from field to choose which branch, tag or commit SHA this new branch will originate from. This field will autocomplete if you start typing an existing branch or tag. Click Create branch and you will be returned to the file browser on this new branch.

New branch page

You can now make changes to any files, as needed. When you're ready to merge the changes back to master you can use the widget at the top of the screen. This widget only appears for a period of time after you create the branch or modify files.

New push widget

Create a new tag

Tags are useful for marking major milestones such as production releases, release candidates, and more. You can create a tag from a branch or a commit SHA. From a project's files page, choose New tag from the dropdown.

New tag dropdown

Give the tag a name such as v1.0.0. Choose the branch or SHA from which you would like to create this new tag. You can optionally add a message and release notes. The release notes section supports Markdown format and you can also upload an attachment. Click Create tag and you will be taken to the tag list page.

New tag page


When creating or uploading a new file, or creating a new directory, you can trigger a new merge request rather than committing directly to master. Enter a new branch name in the Target branch field. You will notice a checkbox appear that is labeled Start a new merge request with these changes. After you commit the changes you will be taken to a new merge request form.

Start a new merge request with these changes

If you'd prefer not to use your primary email address for commits created through the web editor, you can choose to use another of your linked email addresses from the User Settings > Edit Profile page.