At my current employer, we are using an open-source project hosted on Github as a component of our application. I have been working on this project to both add some features that we need and to integrate it with our build systems. My manager and I are in agreement that we would like to submit as much of our work on this component as is reasonable back to the open-source project. My question is about what the best workflow/technique is to maintain my Git commits in such a way that I can easily seperate out things that make sense to add back to the open-source project - bug fixes and new features that are sufficiently general - from things that are specific to our project, like build locations and application constants.
What I have been doing so far is to maintain a private Git branch where I commit all of my changes, with appropriate granularity. I then use
cherry-pick to add the open-sourceable commits to the master branch, and submit those back to Github.
It seems like I ought to be using merge to do this, so that I don't keep creating separate commits with identical contents, but I'm not sure how to do this while excluding the company-specific commits and keeping a reasonable workflow.
For example, I suppose I could commit open-sourceable things on master and company-specific things on the private branch, and then merge master into that branch as needed, leaving the master branch pointing at the commit before the merge, such that I could commit open-sourceable things to it again and then merge again. What seems awkward about this workflow is that I would need to decide in advance for everything I do which branch it belonged on, work on that to what seemed like completion, then commit it and merge before testing. One of the things that I really like about Git is how easy it is to just do whatever you need to make your application work, and then decide later how and where to commit your changes. As far as I can tell, if you're currently on a branch and have some work done, there's no easy way to just submit some of that work to another branch, since changing to that branch would require a clean working directory.
Is what I'm doing a reasonable workflow for long-term contributions? Can anybody recommend a different workflow that might be better, and why it's better?