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Apologia for bzr

From: Eric S. Raymond
Subject: Apologia for bzr
Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2014 13:34:32 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)

Eli Zaretskii <address@hidden>:
> I don't know where to begin.  In a nutshell, [bzr] is simple to use, yet
> powerful enough to give me several important workflows, and an easy
> way to fix any mistakes I happen to make (although lately there are
> almost none).

git is powerful, and what it can do it can also undo; that part is a wash.
I don't think it is in any danger of being described as simple to use, though;
nobody but the blindest git fanboys are going to argue with you on that.

>                It works on Unix and on Windows alike, and does both
> seamlessly.

Not any more.  One of the reported symptoms of decline is that Windows 
support has fallen by the wayside.  I don't care about this, so I
haven't checked myself.

>       The UI is orders of magnitude simpler and easier to grasp
> that that of git.

Agreed, from my experience.  Mercurial's UI is better, too.

>                  The documentation, while it can use some serious
> improvement, is nevertheless orders of magnitude more clear than git's
> man pages, which seem to have been written by some math professor who
> can produce rigorous formal papers, but doesn't have the slightest
> idea how to write useful and efficient user documentation.

I think this is a bit unfair.  In my experience the git pages are
terrible as tutorials, but pretty clear as references once you have an
overall grasp of how things work.  They could easily be far, *far* worse.

And I have to say my experience with bzr documentation was little better.
Less forbiddingly dry and formal, perhaps, but with the same property that
you have to get your head inside bzr's assumptions before much of it makes
sense.  This may be unavoidable; DVCSes are not simple creatures.

> And of course, everything is similar but subtly different from bzr, to
> the point that I need to consult my notes on every step, for fear of
> making a mistake.  The switch from CVS to bzr was very simple by
> comparison, even though the d in dVCS did require some mind shift.

Fair enough.  Similar enough to trip you up is often worse than very different.
I don't think this counts as an argument for bzr, though; if you has absorbed
git first you might have sumilar feelings in an opposite direction.

> > Mind you, I think opposing git adoption is like trying to stop the tide
> > from coming in, at this point (and have my own mixed feelings about that).
> You probably don't know me well enough, if you are surprised by my
> trying to stop the tide.

I don't know you personally, but we've been moving in the same circles
for enough decades that I'm...not very surprised.

If it helps any, I'm sympathetic.  I still wish Mercurial had won.  It
didn't.  I have faced reality and coped.
                <a href="http://www.catb.org/~esr/";>Eric S. Raymond</a>

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