March 22nd, 2007
I’ve been writing a lot about this lately, I know, but it’s an interesting landscape.
I had previously discarded git, but in light of git-cvsserver (which provides a plausible way for Windows people to participate), I gave it a try.
The first thing I noticed is that git documentation, in general, is really poor. Some tutorials that claim to cover git actually cover cogito. Still others use commands that are much more complex than those in the current git — and these just the ones linked to from the git homepage.
git’s manpages aren’t much better. There are quite a few git commands (such as log) that take arguments that other git commands accept. Sometimes this fact is documented with a pointer to these other commands, but often not; a person is left guessing what the full range of accepted arguments are.
My complaint that git is overly complex still exists. They’ve made progress, but still have a serious issue here. Part is because of the docuemtnation, and part is because of the interface. I wanted to export to diffs all patches on the current branch in a repo. I asked on #git, and someone suggested using the revision specifier ..HEAD. Nope, didn’t work. A few other git experts chimed in, and none could come up with the correct recipe. I finally used -500, which worked but is hackish.
git’s lack of even offering support for a human to indicate renames also bothers me, though trustworthy people have assured me that it doesn’t generally cause a problem in practice.
git does have nicer intra-repo branching than Mercurial does, for the moment. But the Mercurial folks are working on that anyway, and branching to new directories still works fine for me.
But in general, git’s philosophy is to make things easy for the upstream maintainer, and doesn’t spend much effort making things easy for contributors (except to make it mildly easier to contribute to a large project like Linux). Most of my software doesn’t have a large developer community, and I want to make it as easy as possible for new developers to join in and participate. git still utterly fails on that.
I tried bzr again. It seems that every time I try it, after just a few minutes, I am repulsed. This time, I stopped when I realized that bzr doesn’t support tags and has no support for emailing changesets whatsoever. As someone that has really liked darcs send (and even used tags way back with CVS!), this is alarming. The tutorial on the bzr website referenced a command “bzr help topics”, which does not work.
So I’ll stick with my mercurial and darcs combination for now.
I announced the first version of a hg send extension yesterday as well. I think Mercurial is very close to having a working equivalent to darcs send.