... wherein I bloviate discursively

Brian Clapper,

One case for git

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The more I play with git, the more I like the idea of distributed source control. Here’s one scenario where it just seems more … natural.

I’m working on some code on my Ubuntu development box. I suddenly realize I can’t really test it on my machine, because it needs a pristine environment that more closely mimics our run-time servers. So, I fire up my (checkpointed) VMWare Ubuntu instance so I can run an install over there.

I want my code over there, too. But I’m not ready to check that code into the Subversion repository yet. (We’re currently using Subversion at work.)

Two solutions immediately spring to mind:

  1. Create a Subversion branch for my code, switch my local development tree to that branch, and check my code into Subversion. Then, on the pristine virtual machine, check that branch out of Subversion and install that code. Okay, this’ll work. But I find merging in Subversion to be annoying, especially if you’re doing multiple merges back from your branch (which I might have to do here).
  2. Use rsync to copy the uncommitted code from my development branch over to the pristine machine. This will also work, of course.

If we were using something like git, though, there’d be a more natural-feeling solution. I could check my code in locally, without pushing it to the master server. Then, from the pristine machine, I could simply pull that code over from my development box, just as if I were checking it out from the master server. As I fix problems with the code, I commit more local changes and pull those check-ins over to the test machine. Later, when everything seems ready for prime time, I simply push the code from my development machine into the master server.

Distributed version control systems like git seem to handle that kind of situation naturally and efficiently. I realize that this approach may not seem all that much different from #1, above, but it just feels cleaner and closer to the problem I’m actually trying to solve.