Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Geek and Poke versus Subversion

I noticed that Geek and Poke has done a fair share of SVN-bashing over the last months. These are awesome, hilarious, and ring so true to my experience with SVN.  I've collected them here and written a few thoughts on how it's different with a distributed alternative like Git.

1. Being a Coder Made Easy
Typical syndrome of first-man-to-the-mill syndrome. The typical use-case is to commit a big fat refactoring early in the morning, before anyone has a chance to get in your way.

With Git, these situations do not occur so often. Big commits are made in branches where they do not disturb the workflow of others. Branches do have to get merged back at some point, and conflicts dealt with, but this happens in a planned and orderly fashion. There is no race to merge branch first.

2. Simply Explained - SVN Guinea Pig
Oh, so typical. Do not update the code when it's broken centrally. This problem is magnified in the lack of a continuous integration system or a fast build.

With Git, your active work is on a branch where you can pull in needed changes as you need them. You can also set up staging branches that run tests or code-review on incoming code, before they are merged into the main line, like they do with Gerrit.

3. Good Coders
Nuff said. Same point as in the previous one.

4. Real Coders Help Eachother
Ditto. Well, it's worth rubbing in :)

5. One Day In The Life Of A Coder - Part 2
After you do a Subversion update, you're stuck with the latest revision, which is bad in the case of a broken build you're not going to fix. You could of course update to an earlier revision, but this typically takes so long, that you're better off getting a coffee and having a chat before you try doing another update to see if the build has been fixed.

With Git, you can immediately reset to the code you had before merging in the latest changes. This takes a matter of seconds, even in a huge repository.

6. One Day In The Life Of A Coder - Part 3
Again, so typical. You want to commit, or you have to commit, but you can't find a good description for it on the fly. You either write a worthless commit message, or fiddle around for ten minutes finding out what you are actually committing.

With Git, you don't let these moments break your flow. You commit, use "Yada yada" as the commit message, then return later with rebase --interactive to squash, and rewrite your commits.

Bottom line
Dear SVN-users. It should be a wake-up call that there are actually comics making fun of one of the most fundamental and important tool in your infrastructure. Start making some changes.