A not so idle thought

Russel Winder russel.winder at concertant.com
Mon Oct 13 19:07:45 BST 2008

On Mon, 2008-10-13 at 10:54 +0100, Paul Moore wrote:
> Sorry, should have sent this to the list.
> Paul
> 2008/10/13 Paul Moore <p.f.moore at gmail.com>:
> > 2008/10/13 Russel Winder <russel.winder at concertant.com>:
> >> The single biggest difference between Bazaar on the one hand and
> >> Mercurial and Git on the other, is that Bazaar is about self-standing
> >> branches and Mercurial and Git are about having branches within a single
> >> repository.  In all the presentations and debates over the next year or
> >> two, this is going to be the central issue.
> >
> > Can you clarify a little, please? I use Mercurial, and have tried
> > Bazaar, and as far as I use it, Mercurial is very much about stand
> > alone branches. If I want to make a change, I do "hg clone", hack,
> > then merge. (There are features for dealing with in-repository
> > long-lived branches, but I don't use them, and I don't believe they
> > are the norm).

All that I have understood of Mercurial -- which is clearly not enough
-- is that a lot of work is actually working with multiple branches in a
single repository, as is the case with Git.  Clearly with Git it is
possible to clone the repository locally to create new threads of work,
but the Git idiom seems to be not to do this but to use the internal
branches instead.  In error it seems I had led myself to believe wrongly
this was the same with Mercurial.

> > Bazaar, on the other hand, manages branches within a shared
> > repository, although these are separate filesystem directories, so I
> > guess from your POV, they are "self-standing" to that extent. Using
> > fully-self-standing branches (located anywhere on the filesystem) is
> > generally slow enough that it's not a practical approach for large
> > repos.

Yes, the working trees are separate for each branch and so available for
general processing at the shell/script level.  This is true whether or
not Shared repositories are used.

Shared repositories are not needed for working with branches and for
small branches can be an awkward overhead and so not worth the hassle.

Local lightweight checkouts can also be a useful tool for very quick

> > So I'd say that Mercurial, at least, "is about self-standing branches"
> > to a greater extent than Bazaar.
> >
> > If I can help with a Mercurial perspective (once I understand your
> > point :-)) I'll be glad to do so.

As others have pointed out, whilst I am a Bazaar and Git user, I haven't
used Mercurial enough to contemplate pontificating -- so I had better
stop :-)

Dr Russel Winder                 Partner

Concertant LLP                   t: +44 20 7585 2200, +44 20 7193 9203
41 Buckmaster Road,              f: +44 8700 516 084
London SW11 1EN, UK.             m: +44 7770 465 077
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