Wed, 12 Mar 2008
So apparently "learning git is like learning vim". Putting aside the incremental learning aspects of this, and stretching the point a little, will you allow me to say "git is like vim"?
We all understand there is no way in which you would mandate that all contributors use vim. You wouldn't want to lose all of those valuable contributions from emacs users of course. However, you still wouldn't dream of mandating the use of one of these two editors. Why should your choice as project maintainer constrain the way in which others want to work?
Obviously it is quite difficult to enforce this editor rule. For a start there is nothing in a plain text file that tells you what editor was used to create it. More importantly though, the contributor's choice of editor doesn't matter to you. If they send you a plain text file then your editor will handle it just as well as theirs.
This is where version control differs from editors. When using the version control system to move code around it tends to dictate the client you use to access it, so one person's decision tends to impact on others.
Is the solution therefore to work towards a situation we have that is similar to that we have with text editors, where the interchange format is understood equally well by all of the tools? Do we spend time developing wrappers for each use that allow us to ignore the fact that we are using different systems?
Recently there has been work done to make bzr support the git-fast-import format. This would then be the start of an interchange format that all tools could use to communicate. However, the problem is that the representations used in one system start to bleed. For instance, bzr supports ghosts, and we are currently discussing the adding support to the format to represent them. However git doesn't support them, and as such there will be know way to complete a round trip of bzr->git->bzr when there are ghosts involved.
So, what about the other solution? Creating wrappers that allow the user to not care what VCS they are using and just get the job done? I think this is useful to a point. It will be great for some people who just want to do really simple things on lots of projects (for instance in Debian). However the tools are necessarily catering to the lowest common denominator, they won't support any of the unique things that make each system great.
Bazaar has foreign branch support (most notably bzr-svn) which allow you to access another system as if if were bzr. This is almost completely transparent ("bzr branch svn://" makes it clear what the project is hosted in), in contrast to git-svn. The latter adds a new command that allows you to do the svn specific parts (setting up the repository, committing back to svn). In contrast bzr-svn uses the normal bzr commands for (almost) everything, meaning you only need to learn the one tool. git-svn is still a great tool, but it certainly makes you realise that you are not dealing with pure git.
The competition between the systems has been great for every one of them. However, it seems like we will be stuck with different systems for the forseeable future, so we should work hard on making them work well together to ease the pain on the users. I think that many of the supporters of distributed version control would say that it is better for you to be using any of them than none of them, but the fractured and unstable landscape we have now is causing a resistance in people to make the switch.
|||It currently adds svn-push for doing a push that creates a new branch in svn, but this is only a temporary thing, "bzr push" will be able to do this at some point. The other commands that are added are for extra things that the core bzr is not meant to deal with.|