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Re: dVCS vs. CVS

From: Tassilo Horn
Subject: Re: dVCS vs. CVS
Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2008 23:45:27 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.110007 (No Gnus v0.7) Emacs/23.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Alan Mackenzie <address@hidden> writes:

Hi Alan,

>> So basically the only difference is that you have to commit to your
>> local repository.  As long as you don't use more advanced functions
>> of the dVCS, there's nothing more complicated.
> Sorry, but no.  What makes it complicated are all the other things
> that you don't want to use.  The things that are there, but you are
> forced to ignore.

You can shoot yourself in the foot with CVS, too.  But it's easy to give
non-programmers a recipe how they can work with a dVCS as well as it is
possible with CVS now.

> It's a bit like saying Emacs is simple, because you can use it "just
> like" a very basic text editor.

But it's not much different than with CVS today.  You can do much more
with it than only the usual up, edit, ci/diff cycle.

> Also, a dVCS's documentation is more complicated.  Unless, of course,
> its writers write a special cut down version for "unsophisticated"
> users - Something they're hardly likely to, since they will want to
> encourage people to use it "properly".

At least git has a short "Everyday git" tutorial that explains the few
commands each role may use.  If the dVCS we choose has no such
documentation, it won't be hard to write one ourselves.

>> > Autoconf, Automake, m4, Gnulib and other projects switched to Git
>> > some time ago.  One would expect that there will be an avalanche of
>> > new contributors who were not volunteering only because they needed
>> > a modern VCS to go ahead.
>> I guess that's not a good comparison, because those are pretty boring
>> projects for most people.
> So's Emacs.  ;-)


But generally I'd say end-user applications attract more voluntary
programmers than libs and build tools.

>> Another project that switched from CVS to git recently is stumpwm,
>> and this project now has a hundfull of contributors now instead of
>> only one.
> I can't honestly imagine that the VCS system in use is that critical a
> factor in attracting most new contributors.

Surely, it's not critical, but it's convenient.  Not only for new
contributors, but for every programmer.

Take me as an example.  I have some items on my todo list, but since my
time is quite limited, I don't even start to implement them, since when
I do so I cannot commit till it's finished.  With a dVCS I would create
a new local branch for a task and work on it when I want.  I could
switch back to the main branch to fix a bug or make a quick change
whenever I want.

(Sure, I can checkout emacs many times to simulate multiple local
branches, but that has other drawbacks.)


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