Sunday, July 19, 2009

The current status of Git on Windows

So I finally hopped on the Git wagon, and I gotta say it's awesome! It takes some learning, but once you grok it, it's quite a simple model really.

I'm currently using Git via git-svn at work at the moment since I don't want to disturb the rest of the team just yet. Git-svn allows me to take most of the advantages of DVCS and when I'm done I commit to svn to publish my changes. Well, I'm not going to do a tutorial here, you can easily find lots of them on the net. I'll just say that if you're considering using a DVCS, go for it. Don't listen to those who say it's more complex or it has many more commands. Just go for it, it takes some learning but it's totally worth it. But please, do it with an open-minded approach. It's a different paradigm, try not to judge it from centralized version control concepts.

In my opinion, within three years from now almost everyone will be using a DVCS. Even the svn team is considering implementing an "hybrid distributed/centralized model" so if you stick with svn you'll probably use decentralized features in a couple of years.

The adoption rate of DVCS is pretty fast. Take a look at these graphs of Git Survey 2008 responses, and GitHub traffic:

 git_survey_responses (1)


And that's just Git. Mercurial and Bazaar usage are growing too.

However, it isn't all roses with Git on Windows. Linux people are used to the command line so it's not much of a problem for them to use the git CLI, but we Windows users are too spoiled by the ubiquitous GUI, and the excellent TortoiseSVN, AnkhSVN and VisualSVN. I think I never had to drop down to the command line to do something in svn. Even when I had to script something that involved svn, I just used SharpSvn and Boo.

With Git, I'm currently using the following mix of interfaces:

  • gitk for history browsing and deleting branches.
  • git-gui or TortoiseGit for committing.
  • TortoiseGit for rebasing and conflict resolution.
  • git-gui for merging, creating branches, pushing, fetching.
  • gitk or git-gui for checkout.
  • GitExtensions for single-file history within Visual Studio.
  • git bash (command line) for git-svn and sometimes pulling, fetching and merging.

There are even more GUIs, like git-cola, qgit and others. So the problem isn't really a lack of GUIs. The problem is that none of them gets everything right, like TortoiseSVN does. Or at least I haven't found one. So I have to keep switching between them, which obviously isn't optimal. Now I don't mean to bash them, to their credit, GUIs and Windows support have improved hugely in the last 12 months or so. In particular, TortoiseGit has gone from nil to very usable in about 6 months by taking advantage of the TortoiseSVN codebase.

Another issue is the speed. Everyone says git is fast. Not so much on Windows, because Windows doesn't have fork() so it has to be emulated (which is slow) and exec() is also much slower than Linux. Git-svn is particularly slow because of this.

Now I don't like to rant aimlessly. I think the way to truly address these issues is to first build a solid foundation, a solid git library for Windows. And that foundation is GitSharp, which is a port of the Java jgit. The port is currently only 50% complete so it needs as much help as possible. Are you interested? Fork away! ;-)

1 comment:

henon said...

yeah! cu hacking on GitSharp (git#)!

-- henon