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    The interface of Git and its underlying data models are two very different things, that are best treated separately.

    The interface is pretty bad. If I wasn’t so used to it I would be fairly desperate for an alternative. I don’t care much for the staging area, I don’t like to have to clean up my working directory every time I need to switch branches, and I don’t like how easy it is to lose commit from a detached HEAD (though there’s always git reflog I guess).

    The underlying data model however is pretty good. We can probably ditch the staging area, but apart from that, viewing the history of a repository as a directed graph of snapshots is nice. Captures everything we need. Sure patches have to be derived from those snapshots, but we care less about the patches than we care about the various versions we saved. If there’s one thing we need to get right, it’s those snapshots. You get reproducible builds & test from them, not from patches. So I think Patches are secondary. I used to love DARCS, but I think patch theory was probably the wrong choice.

    Now one thing Git really really doesn’t like is large binary files. Especially if we keep changing them. But then that’s just a compression problem. Let the data model pretend there’s a blob for each version of that huge file, even though in fact the software is automatically compressing & decompressing things under the hood.

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      What’s wrong with the staging area? I use it all the time to break big changes into multiple commits and smaller changes. I’d hate to see it removed just because a few people don’t find it useful.

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        Absolutely, I would feel like I’m missing a limb without the staging area. I understand that it’s conceptually difficult at first, but imo it’s extremely worth the cost.

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          Do you actually use it, or do you just do git commit -p, which only happens to use the staging area as an implementation detail?

          And how do you test the code you’re committing? How do you make sure that the staged hunks aren’t missing another hunk that, for example, changes the signature the function you’re calling? It’s a serious slowdown in workflow to need to wait for CI rounds, stash and rebase to get a clean commit, and push again.

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            Do you actually use it

            Yes.

            And how do you test the code you’re committing?

            rebase with --exec

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              I git add -p to the staging area and then diff it before generating the commit. I guess that could be done without a staging area using a different workflow but I don’t see the benefit (even if I have to check git status for the command every time I need to unstage something (-: )

              As for testing, since I’m usually using Github I use the PR as the base unit that needs to pass a test (via squash merges, the horror I know). My commits within a branch often don’t pass tests; I use commits to break things up into sections of functionality for my own benefit going back later.

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                Just to add on, the real place where the staging area shines is with git reset -p. You can reset part of a commit, amend the commit, and then create a new commit with your (original) changes or continue editing. The staging area becomes more useful the more you do commit surgery.

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                  Meh, you don’t need a staging area for that (or anything). hg uncommit -i (for --interactive) does quite the same thing, and because it has no artificial staging/commit split it gets to use the clear verb.

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                  I guess that could be done without a staging area using a different workflow but I don’t see the benefit

                  I don’t see the cost.

                  My commits within a branch often don’t pass tests;

                  If you ever need to git bisect, you may come to regret that. I almost never use git bisect, but for the few times I did need it it was a life saver, and passing tests greatly facilitate it.

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                    I bisect every so often, but on the squashed PR commits on main, not individual commits within a PR branch. I’ve never needed to do that to diagnose a bug. If you have big PRs, don’t squash, or don’t use a PR-based workflow, that’s different of course. I agree with the general sentiment that all commits on main should pass tests for the purposes of bisection.

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                  I use git gui for committing, (the built in git gui command) which let’s you pick by line not just hunks. Normally the things I’m excluding are stuff like enabling debug flags, or just extra logging, so it’s not really difficult to make sure it’s correct. Not saying I never push bad code, but I can’t recall an instance where I pushed bad code because of that so use the index to choose parts of my unfinished work to save in a stash (git stash –keep-index), and sometimes if I’m doing something risky and iterative I’ll periodically add things to the staging area as I go so I can have some way to get back to the last known good point without actually making a bunch of commits ( I could rebase after, yeah but meh).

                  It being just an implementation detail in most of that is a fair point though.

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                    I personally run the regression test (which I wrote) to test changes.

                    Then I have to wait for the code review (which in my experience has never stopped a bug going through; when I have found bugs, in code reviews, it was always “out of scope for the work, so don’t fix it”) before checking it in. I’m dreading the day when CI is actually implemented as it would slow down an already glacial process [1].

                    Also, I should mention I don’t work on web stuff at all (thank God I got out of that industry).

                    [1] Our customer is the Oligarchic Cell Phone Company, which has a sprint of years, not days or weeks, with veto power over when we deploy changes.

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                    Author of the Jujutsu VCS mentioned in the article here. I tried to document at https://github.com/martinvonz/jj/blob/main/docs/git-comparison.md#the-index why I think users don’t actually need the index as much as they think.

                    I missed the staging area for at most a few weeks after I switched from Git to Mercurial many years ago. Now I miss Mercurial’s tools for splitting commits etc. much more whenever I use Git.

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                      Thanks for the write up. From what I read it seems like with Jujutsu if I have some WIP of which I want to commit half and continue experimenting with the other half I would need to commit it all across two commits. After that my continuing WIP would be split across two places: the second commit and the working file changes. Is that right? If so, is there any way to tag that WIP commit as do-not-push?

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                        Not quite. Every time you run a command, the working copy is snapshotted and becomes a real commit, amending the precis working-copy commit. The changes in the working copy are thus treated just like any other commit. The corresponding think to git commit -p is jj split, which creates two stacked commits from the previous working-copy commit, and the second commit (the child) is what you continue to edit in the working copy.

                        Your follow-up question still applies (to both commits instead of the single commit you seemed to imagine). There’s not yet any way of marking the working copy as do-not-push. Maybe we’ll copy Mercurial’s “phase” concept, but we haven’t decided yet.

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                    Way I see it, the staging area is a piece of state needed specifically for a command line interface. I use it too, for the exact reason you do. But I could do the same by committing it directly. Compare the possible workflows. Currently we do:

                    # most of the time
                    git add .
                    git commit
                    
                    # piecemeal
                    git add -p .
                    # review changes
                    git commit
                    

                    Without a staging area, we could instead do that:

                    # most of the time
                    git commit
                    
                    # piecemeal
                    git commit -p
                    # review changes
                    git reset HEAD~ # if the changes are no good
                    

                    And I’m not even talking about a possible GUI for the incremental making of several commits.

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                      Personally I use git add -p all of the time. I’ve simply been burned by the other way too many times. What I want is not to save commands but to have simple commands that work for me in every situation. I enjoy the patch selection phase. More often than not it is what triggers my memory of a TODO item I forgot to jot down, etc. The patch selection is the same as reviewing the diff I’m about to push but it lets me do it incrementally so that when I’m (inevitably) interrupted I don’t have to remember my place.

                      From your example workflows it seems like you’re interested in avoiding multiple commands. Perhaps you could use git commit -a most of the time? Or maybe add a commit-all alias?

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                        Never got around to write that alias, and if I’m being honest I quite often git diff --cached to see what I’ve added before I actually commit it.

                        I do need something that feels like a staging area. I was mostly wondering whether that staging area really needed to be implemented differently than an ordinary commit. Originally I believed commits were enough, until someone pointed out pre-commit hooks. Still, I wonder why the staging area isn’t at least a pointer to a tree object. It would have been more orthogonal, and likely require less effort to implement. I’m curious what Linus was thinking.

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                          Very honourable to revise your opinion in the face of new evidence, but I’m curious to know what would happen if you broadened the scope of your challenge with “and what workflow truly requires pre-commit hooks?”!

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                            Hmm, that’s a tough one. Strictly speaking, none. But I can see the benefits.

                            Take Monocypher for instance: now it’s pretty stable, and though it is very easy for me to type make test every time I modify 3 characters, in practice I may want to make sure I don’t forget to do it before I commit anything. But even then there are 2 alternatives:

                            • Running tests on the server (but it’s better suited to a PR model, and I’m almost the only committer).
                            • Having a pre push hook. That way my local commits don’t need the hook, and I could go back to using the most recent one as a staging area.
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                          I use git add -p all the time, but only because Magit makes it so easy. If I had an equally easy interface to something like hg split or jj split, I don’t think I’d care about the lack of an index/staging area.

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                          # most of the time

                          git add .

                          Do you actually add your entire working directory most of the time? Unless I’ve just initialized a repository I essentially never do that.

                          Here’s something I do do all the time, because my mind doesn’t work in a red-green-refactor way:

                          Get a bug report

                          Fix bug in foo_controller

                          Once the bug is fixed, I finally understand it well enough to write an automated regression test around it, so go do that in foo_controller_spec

                          Run test suite to ensure I didn’t break anything and that my new test is green

                          Add foo_controller and foo_controller_spec to staging area

                          Revert working copy (but not staged copy!) of foo_controller (but not it’s spec)

                          Run test suite again and ensure I have exactly one red test (the new regression test). If yes, commit the stage.

                          If no, debug spec against old controller until I understand why it’s not red, get it red, pull staged controller back to working area, make sure it’s green.

                          Yeah, I could probably simulate this by committing halfway through and then doing some bullshit with cherry-picks from older commits and in some cases reverting the top commit but, like, why? What would I gain from limiting myself to just this awkward commit dance as the only way of working? That’s just leaving me to cobble together a workflow that’s had a powerful abstraction taken away from it, just to satisfy some dogmatic “the commit is the only abstraction I’m willing to allow” instinct.

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                            Do you actually add your entire working directory most of the time?

                            Yes. And when I get a bug report, I tend to first reproduce the bug, then write a failing test, then fix the code.

                            Revert working copy (but not staged copy!) of foo_controller (but not it’s spec)

                            Sounds useful. How do you do that?

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                              Revert working copy (but not staged copy!) of foo_controller (but not it’s spec)

                              Sounds useful. How do you do that?

                              You can checkout a file into your working copy from any commit.

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                                Yes. And when I get a bug report, I tend to first reproduce the bug, then write a failing test, then fix the code.

                                Right, but that was just one example. Everything in your working copy should always be committed at all times? I’m almost never in that state. Either I’ve got other edits in progress that I intend to form into later commits, or I’ve got edits on disk that I never intend to commit but in files that should not be git ignored (because I still intend to merge upstream changes into them).

                                I always want to be intentionally forming every part of a commit, basically.

                                Sounds useful. How do you do that?

                                git add foo_controller <other files>; git restore -s HEAD foo_controller

                                and then

                                git restore foo_controller will copy the staged version back into the working set.

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                              TBH, I have no idea what “git add -p” does off hand (I use Magit), and I’ve never used staging like that.

                              I had a great example use of staging come up just yesterday. I’m working in a feature branch, and we’ve given QA a build to test what we have so far. They found a bug with views, and it was an easy fix (we didn’t copy attributes over when copying a view).

                              So I switched over to views.cpp and made the change. I built, tested that specific view change, and in Magit I staged that specific change in views.cpp. Then I commited, pushed it, and kicked off a pipeline build to give to QA.

                              I also use staging all the time if I refactor while working on new code or fixing bugs. Say I’m working on “foo()”, but while doing so I refactor “bar()” and “baz()”. With staging, I can isolate the changes to “bar()” and “baz()” in their own commits, which is handy for debugging later, giving the changes to other people without pulling in all of my changes, etc.

                              Overall, it’s trivial to ignore staging if you don’t want it, but it would be a lot of work to simulate it if it weren’t a feature.

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                              What’s wrong with the staging area? I use it all the time to break big changes into multiple commits and smaller changes.

                              I’m sure you do – that’s how it was meant to be used. But you might as well use commits as the staging area – it’s easy to commit and squash. This has the benefit that you can work with your whole commit stack at the same time. I don’t know what problem the staging area solves that isn’t better solved with commits. And yet, the mere existence of this unnecessary feature – this implicitly modified invisible state that comes and crashes your next commit – adds cognitive load: Commands like git mv, git rm and git checkout pollutes the state, then git diff hides it, and finally, git commit --amend accidentally invites it into the topmost commit.

                              The combo of being not useful and a constant stumbling block makes it bad.

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                                I don’t know what problem the staging area solves that isn’t better solved with commits.

                                If I’ve committed too much work in a single commit how would I use commits to split that commit into two commits?

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                                  Using e.g. hg split or jj split. The former has a text-based interface similar to git commit -p as well as a curses-based TUI. The latter lets you use e.g. Meld or vimdiff to edit the diff in a temporary directory and then rewrites the commit and all descendants when you’re done.

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                                    That temporary directory sounds a lot like the index – a temporary place where changes to the working copy can be batched. Am I right to infer here that the benefit you find in having a second working copy in a temp directory because it works better with some other tools that expect to work files?

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                                      The temporary directory is much more temporary than the index - it only exists while you split the commit. For example, if you’re splitting a commit that modifies 5 files, then the temporary directory will have only 2*5 files (for before and after). Does that clarify?

                                      The same solution for selecting part of the changes in a commit is used by jj amend -i (move into parent of specified commit, from working-copy commit by default), jj move -i --from <rev> --to <rev> (move changes between arbitrary commits) etc.

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                                    I use git revise. Interactive revise is just like interactive rebase, except that it has is a cut subcommand. This can be used to split a commit by selecting and editing hunks like git commit -p.

                                    Before git-revise, I used to manually undo part of the commit, commit that, then revert it, and then sqash the undo-commit into the commit to be split. The revert-commit then contains the split-off changes.

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                                    I don’t know, I find it useful. Maybe if git built in mercurials “place changes into commit that isn’t the most recent” amend thing then I might have an easier time doing things but just staging up relevant changes in a patch-based flow is pretty straightforward and helpful IMO

                                    I wonder if this would be as controversial if patching was the default

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                                    What purpose does it serve that wouldn’t also be served by first-class rollback and an easier way of collapsing changesets on their way upstream? I find that most of the benefits of smaller changesets disappear when they don’t have commit messages, and when using the staging area for this you can only rollback one step without having to get into the hairy parts of git.

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                                      The staging area is difficult to work with until you understand what’s happening under the hood. In most version control systems, an object under version control would be in one of a handful of states: either the object has been cataloged and stored in its current state, or it hasn’t. From a DWIM standpoint for a new git user, would catalog and store the object in its current state. With the stage, you can stage, and change, stage again, and change again. I’ve used this myself to logically group commits so I agree with you that it’s useful. But I do see how it breaks peoples DWIM view on how git works.

                                      Also, If I stage, and then change, is there a way to have git restore the file as I staged it if I haven’t committed?

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                                        Also, If I stage, and then change, is there a way to have git restore the file as I staged it if I haven’t committed?

                                        Git restore .

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                                          I’ve implemented git from scratch. I still find the staging area difficult to use effectively in practice.

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                                          Try testing your staged changes atomically before you commit. You can’t.

                                          A better design would have been an easy way to unstage, similar to git stash but with range support.

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                                            You mean git stash --keep-index?

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                                              Interesting, that would solve the problem. I’m surprised I’ve not come across that before.

                                              In terms of “what’s wrong with the staging area”, what I was suggesting would work better is to have the whole thing work in reverse. So all untracked files are “staged” by default and you would explicitly un-stage anything you don’t want to commit. Firstly this works better for the 90% use-case, and compared to this workaround it’s a single step rather than 2 steps for the 10% case where you don’t want to commit all your changes yet.

                                              The fundamental problem with the staging area is that it’s an additional, hidden state that the final committed state has to pass through. But that means that your commits do not necessarily represent a state that the filesystem was previously in, which is supposed to be a fundamental guarantee. The fact that you have to explicitly stash anything to put the staging area into a knowable state is a bit of a hack. It solves a problem that shouldn’t exist.

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                                                The way I was taught this, the way I’ve taught this to others, and the way it’s represented in at least some guis is not compatible.

                                                I mean, sure, you can have staged and unstaged changes in a file and need to figure it out for testing, or unstage parts, but mostly it’s edit -> stage -> commit -> push.

                                                That feels, to me and to newbies who barely know what version control is, like a logical additive flow. Tons of cases you stage everything and commit so it’s a very small operation.

                                                The biggest gripe may be devs who forget to add files in the proper commit, which makes bisect hard. Your case may solve that for sure, but I find it a special case of bad guis and sloppy devs who do that. Also at some point the fs layout gets fewer new files.

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                                                  Except that in a completely linear flow the distinction between edit and stage serves no purpose. At best it creates an extra step for no reason and at worst it is confusing and/or dangerous to anyone who doesn’t fully understand the state their working copy is in. You can bypass the middle state with git add .; git commit and a lot of new developers do exactly that, but all that does is pretend the staging state doesn’t exist.

                                                  Staging would serve a purpose if it meant something similar to pushing a branch to CI before a merge, where you have isolated the branch state and can be assured that it has passed all required tests before it goes anywhere permanent. But the staging area actually does the opposite of that, by creating a hidden state that cannot be tested directly.

                                                  As you say, all it takes is one mistake and you end up with a bad commit that breaks bisect later. That’s not just a problem of developers being forgetful, it’s the bad design of the staging area that makes this likely to happen by default.

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                                                    I think I sort of agree but do not completely concur.

                                                    Glossing over the staging can be fine in some projects and dev sloppiness is IMO a bigger problem than an additive flow for clean commits.

                                                    These are societal per-project issues - what’s the practice or policy or mandate - and thus they could be upheld by anything, even using the undo buffer for clean commits like back in the day. Which isn’t to say you never gotta do trickery like that with Git, just that it’s a flow that feels natural and undo trickery less common.

                                                    Skimming the other comments, maybe jj is more like your suggestion, and I wouldn’t mind “a better Git”, but I can’t be bothered when eg. gitless iirc dropped the staging and would make clean commits feel like 2003.

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                                              If git stash --keep-index doesn’t do what you want the you could help further the conversation by elaborating on what you want.

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                                              The underlying data model however is pretty good. We can probably ditch the staging area,

                                              Absolutely not. The staging area was a godsend coming from Subversion – it’s my favorite part of git bar none.

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                                                Everyone seem to suppose I would like to ditch the workflows enabled by the staging area. I really don’t. I’m quite sure there ways to keep those workflows without using a staging area. If there aren’t well… I can always admit I was wrong.

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                                                  Well, what I prize being able to do is to build up a commit piecemeal out of some but not all of the changes in my working directory, in an incremental rather than all-in-one-go fashion (ie. I should be able to form the commit over time and I should be able to modify a file, move it’s state into the “pending commit” and continue to modify the file further without impacting the pending commit). It must be possible for any commit coming out of this workflow to both not contain everything in my working area, and to contain things no longer in my working area. It must be possible to diff my working area against the pending commit and against the last actual commit (separately), and to diff the pending commit against the last actual commit.

                                                  You could call it something else if you wanted but a rose by any other name etc. A “staging area” is a supremely natural metaphor for what I want to work with in my workflow, so replacing it hardly seems desirable to me.

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                                                    How about making the pending commit an actual commit? And then adding the porcelain necessary to treat it like a staging area? Stuff like git commit -p foo if you want to add changes piecemeal.

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                                                      No. That’s cool too and is what tools like git revise and git absorb enable, but making it an actual commit would have other drawbacks: it would imply it has a commit message and passes pre-commit hooks and things like that. The staging area is useful precisely for what it does now—help you build up the pieces necessary to make a commit. As such it implies you don’t have everything together to make a commit out of it. As soon as I do I commit, then if necessary --ammend, --edit, or git revise later. If you don’t make use of workflows that use staging then feel free to use tooling that bypasses it for you, but don’t try to take it away from the rest of us.

                                                      1. 9

                                                        pre-commit hooks

                                                        Oh, totally missed that one. Probably because I’ve never used it (instead i rely on CI or manually pushing a button). Still, that’s the strongest argument so far, and I have no good solution that doesn’t involve an actual staging area there. I guess it’s time to change my mind.

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                                                          I think the final word is not said. These tools could also run hooks. It may be that new hooks need to be defined.

                                                          Here is one feature request: run git hooks on new commit

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                                                            I think you missed the point, my argument is that the staging area is useful as a place to stage stuff before things like commit related hooks get run. I don’t want tools like git revise to run precommit hooks. When I use git revise the commit has already been made and presumably passed precommit phase.

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                                                              For the problem that git revise “bypasses” the commit hook when using it to split a commit, I meant the commit hook (not precommit hook).

                                                              I get that the staging area lets you assemble a commit before you can run the commit hook. But if this was possible to do statelessly (which would only be an improvement), you could do without it. And for other reasons, git would be so much better without this footgun:

                                                              Normally, you can look at git diff and commit what you see with git commit -a. But if the staging area is clobbered, which you might have forgot, you also have invisible state that sneaks in!

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                                                                Normally, you can look at git diff and commit what you see with git commit -a.

                                                                Normally I do nothing of the kind. I might have used git commit -a a couple times in the last 5 years (and I make dozens to hundreds of commits per day). The stattefullness of the staging area is exactly what benefits my workflow and not the part I would be trying to eliminate. The majority of the time I stage things I’m working on from my editor one hunk at a time. The difference between my current buffer and the last git commit is highlighted and after I make some progress I start adding related hunks and shaping them into commits. I might fiddle around with a couple things in the current file, then when I like it stage up pieces into a couple different commits.

                                                                The most aggressive I’d get is occasionally (once a month?) coming up with a use for git commit -u.

                                                                A stateless version of staging that “lets you assemble a commit” sounds like an oxymoron to me. I have no idea what you think that would even look like, but a state that is neither the full contents of the current file system nor yet a commit is exactly what I want.

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                                                            Why not allow an empty commit message, and skip the commit hooks if a message hasn’t been set yet?

                                                            1. 1

                                                              Why deliberately make a mess of things? Why make a discreet concept of a “commit” into something else with multiple possible states? Why not just use staging like it is now? I see no benefit to jurry rigging more states on top of a working one. If the point is to simplify the tooling you won’t get there by overloading one clean concept with an indefinite state and contextual markers like “if commit message empty then this is not a real commit”.

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                                                                Empty commit message is how you abort a commit

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  With the current UI.

                                                                  When discussing changes, there’s the possibility of things changing.

                                                            2. 5

                                                              Again, what’s the benefit?

                                                              Sure, you could awkwardly simulate a staging area like this. The porcelain would have to juggle a whole bunch of shit to avoid breaking anytime you merge a bunch of changes after adding something to the fake “stage”, pull in 300 new commits, and then decide you want to unstage something, so the replacement of the dedicated abstraction seems likely to leak and introduce merge conflict resolution where you didn’t previously have to worry about it, but maybe with enough magic you could do it.

                                                              But what’s the point? To me it’s like saying that I could awkwardly simulate if, while and for with goto, or simulate basically everything with enough NANDs. You’re not wrong, but what’s in it for me? Why am I supposed to like this any better than having a variety of fit-for-purpose abstractions? It just feels like I’d be tying one hand behind my back so there can be one less abstraction, without explain why having N-1 abstractions is even more desirable than having N.

                                                              Seems like an “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” desire than anything beneficial, really.

                                                              1. 1

                                                                Again, what’s the benefit?

                                                                Simplicity of implementation. Implementing the staging area like a commit, or at least like a pointer to a tree object, would likely make the underlying data model simpler. I wonder why the staging area was implemented the way it is.

                                                                At the interface level however I’ve had to change my mind because of pre-commit hooks. When all you have is commits, and some tests are automatically launched every time you commit anything, it’s pretty hard to add stuff piecemeal.

                                                                1. 3

                                                                  Yes, simplicity of implementation and UI. https://github.com/martinvonz/jj (mentioned in the article) makes the working copy (not the staging area) an actual commit. That does make the implementation quite a lot simpler. You also get backups of the working copy that way.

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                                                                    Simplicity of implementation.

                                                                    No offence but, why would I give a shit about this? git is a tool I use to enable me to get other work done, it’s not something I’m reimplementing. If “making the implementation simpler” means my day-to-day workflows get materially more unpleasant, the simplicity of the implementation can take a long walk off a short pier for all I care.

                                                                    It’s not just pre-commit hooks that get materially worse with this. “Staging” something would then have to have a commit message, I would effectively have to branch off of head before doing every single “staging” commit in order to be able to still merge another branch and then rebase it back on top of everything without fucking about in the reflog to move my now-burried-in-the-past stage commit forward, etc, etc. “It would make the implementation simpler” would be a really poor excuse for a user hostile change.

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                                                                      If “making the implementation simpler” means my day-to-day workflows get materially more unpleasant, the simplicity of the implementation can take a long walk off a short pier for all I care.

                                                                      I agree. Users shouldn’t have to care about the implementation (except for minor effects like a simpler implementation resulting in fewer bugs). But I don’t understand why your workflows would be materially more unpleasant. I think they would actually be more pleasant. Mercurial users very rarely miss the staging area. I was a git developer (mostly working on git rebase) a long time ago, so I consider myself a (former) git power user. I never miss the staging area when I use Mercurial.

                                                                      “Staging” something would then have to have a commit message

                                                                      Why? I think the topic of this thread is about what can be done differently, so why would the new tool require a commit message? I agree that it’s useful if the tool lets you provide a message, but I don’t think it needs to be required.

                                                                      I would effectively have to branch off of head before doing every single “staging” commit in order to be able to still merge another branch and then rebase it back on top of everything without fucking about in the reflog to move my now-burried-in-the-past stage commit forward

                                                                      I don’t follow. Are you saying you’re currently doing the following?

                                                                      git add -p
                                                                      git merge <another branch>
                                                                      git rebase <another branch>
                                                                      

                                                                      I don’t see why the new tool would bury the staging commit in the past. That’s not what happens with Jujutsu/jj anyway. Since the working copy is just like any other commit there, you can simply merge the other branch with it and then rebase the whole stack onto the other branch after.

                                                                      I’ve tried to explain a bit about this at https://github.com/martinvonz/jj/blob/main/docs/git-comparison.md#the-index. Does that help clarify?

                                                                      1. 1

                                                                        Mercurial users very rarely miss the staging area.

                                                                        Well, I’m not them. As somebody who was forced to use Mercurial for a bit and hated every second of it, I missed the hell out of it, personally (and if memory serves, there was later at least one inevitably-nonstandard Mercurial plugin to paper over this weakness, so I don’t think I was the only person missing it).

                                                                        I’ve talked about my workflow elsewhere in this thread, I’m not really interested in rehashing it, but suffice to say I lean on the index for all kinds of things.

                                                                        Are you saying you’re currently doing the following? git add -p git merge

                                                                        I’m saying that any number of times I start putting together a commit by staging things on Friday afternoon, come back on Monday, pull in latest from main, and continue working on forming a commit.

                                                                        If I had to (manually, we’re discussing among other things the assertion that you could eliminate the stage because it’s pointless, and you could “just” commit whenever you want to stage and revert the commit whenever they want to unstage ) commit things on Friday, forget I’d done so on Monday, pull in 300 commits from main, and then whoops I want to revert a commit 301 commits back so now I get to back out the merge and etc etc, this is all just a giant pain in the ass to even type out.

                                                                        Does that help clarify?

                                                                        I’m honestly not interested in reading it, or in what “Jujutsu” does, as I’m really happy with git and totally uninterested in replacing it. All I was discussing in this thread with Loup-Vaillant was the usefulness of the stage as an abstraction and my disinterest in seeing it removed under an attitude of “well you could just manually make commits when you would want to stage things, instead”.

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          I’m honestly not interested in reading it, or in what “Jujutsu” does

                                                                          Too bad, this link you’re refusing to read is highly relevant to this thread. Here’s a teaser:

                                                                          As a Git power-user, you may think that you need the power of the index to commit only part of the working copy. However, Jujutsu provides commands for more directly achieving most use cases you’re used to using Git’s index for.

                                                                          1. 0

                                                                            What “jujutsu” does under the hood has nothing whatsoever to do with this asinine claim of yours, which is the scenario I was objecting to: https://lobste.rs/s/yi97jn/is_it_time_look_past_git#c_k6w2ut

                                                                            At this point I’ve had enough of you showing up in my inbox with these poorly informed, bad faith responses. Enough.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              I was claiming that the workflows we have with the staging area, we could achieve without. And Jujutsu here has ways to do exactly that. It has everything to do with the scenario you were objecting to.

                                                                              Also, this page (and what I cited specifically) is not about what jujutsu does under the hood, it’s about its user interface.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                I’ve made it clear that I’m tired of interacting with you. Enough already.

                                                                      2. 1

                                                                        No offence but, why would I give a shit about [simplicity of implementation]?

                                                                        It’s because people don’t give a shit that we have bloated (and often slow) software.

                                                                        1. 0

                                                                          And it’s because of developers with their heads stuck so far up their asses that they prioritize their implementation simplicity over the user experience that so much software is actively user-hostile.

                                                                          Let’s end this little interaction here, shall we.

                                                          3. 15

                                                            Sublime Merge is the ideal git client for me. It doesn’t pretend it’s not git like all other GUI clients I’ve used so you don’t have to learn something new and you don’t unlearn git. It uses simple git commands and shows them to you. Most of git’s day-to-day problems go away if you can just see what you’re doing (including what you’ve mentioned).

                                                            CLI doesn’t cut it for projects of today’s size. A new git won’t fix that. The state of a repository doesn’t fit in a terminal and it doesn’t fit in my brain. Sublime Merge shows it just right.

                                                            1. 5

                                                              I like GitUp for the same reasons. Just let me see what I’m doing… and Undo! Since it’s free, it’s easy to get coworkers to try it.

                                                              1. 4

                                                                I didn’t know about GitUp but I have become a big fan of gitui as of late.

                                                                1. 2

                                                                  I’ll check that out, thank you!

                                                              2. 2

                                                                I use Fork for the same purpose and the staging area has never been a problem since it is visible and diffable at any time, and that’s how you compose your commits.

                                                              3. 6

                                                                See Game of Trees for an alternative to the git tool that interacts with normal git repositories.

                                                                Have to agree with others about the value of the staging area though! It’s the One Big Thing I missed while using Mercurial.

                                                                1. 5

                                                                  Well, on the one hand people could long for a better way to store the conflict resolutions to reuse them better on future merges.

                                                                  On the other hand, of all approaches to DAG-of-commits, Git’s model is plain worse than the older/parallel ones. Git is basically intended to lose valuable information about intent. The original target branch of the commit often tells as much as the commit message… but it is only available in reflog… auto-GCed and impossible to sync.

                                                                  1. 10

                                                                    Half of my branches are called werwerdsdffsd. I absolutely don’t want them permanently burned in the history. These scars from work-in-progress annoyed me in Mercurial.

                                                                    1. 9

                                                                      Honestly I have completely the opposite feeling. Back in the days before git crushed the world, I used Mercurial quite a lot and I liked that Mercurial had both the ephemeral “throw away after use” model (bookmarks) and the permanent-part-of-your-repository-history model (branches). They serve different purposes, and both are useful and important to have. Git only has one and mostly likes to pretend that the other is awful and horrible and nobody should ever want it, but any long-lived project is going to end up with major refactoring or rewrites or big integrations that they’ll want to keep some kind of “here’s how we did it” record to easily point to, and that’s precisely where the heavyweight branch shines.

                                                                      And apparently I wrote this same argument in more detail around 12 years ago.

                                                                      1. 1

                                                                        ffs_please_stop_refactoring_and_review_this_pr8

                                                                      2. 2

                                                                        This is a very good point. It would be interesting to tag and attach information to a group of related commits. I’m curious of the linux kernel workflows. If everything is an emailed patch, maybe features are done one commit at a time.

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          If you go further, there are many directions to extend what you can store and query in the repository! And of course they are useful. But even the data Git forces you to have (unlike, by the way, many other DVCSes where if you do not want a meaningful name you can just have multiple heads in parallel inside a branch) could be used better.

                                                                        2. 2

                                                                          I can’t imagine a scenario where the original branch point of a feature would ever matter, but I am constantly sifting through untidy merge histories that obscure the intent.

                                                                          Tending to your commit history with intentionality communicates to reviewers what is important, and removes what isn’t.

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            It is not about the point a branch started from. It is about which of the recurring branches the commit was in. Was it in quick-fix-train branch or in update-major-dependency-X branch?

                                                                            1. 2

                                                                              The reason why this isn’t common is because of GitHub more than Git. They don’t provide a way to use merge commits that isn’t a nightmare.

                                                                              When I was release managing by hand, my preferred approach was rebasing the branch off HEAD but retaining the merge commit, so that the branch commits were visually grouped together and the branch name was retained in the history. Git can do this easily.

                                                                        3. 5

                                                                          I never understood the hate for Git’s CLI. You can learn 99% of what you need to know on a daily basis in a few hours. That’s not a bad time investment for a pivotal tool that you use multiple times every day. I don’t expect a daily driver tool to be intuitive, I expect it to be rock-solid, predictable, and powerful.

                                                                          1. 9

                                                                            This is a false dichotomy: it can be both (as Mercurial is). Moreover, while it’s true that you can learn the basics to get by with in a few hours, it causes constant low-level mental overhead to remember how different commands interact, what the flag is in this command vs. that command, etc.—and never mind that the man pages are all written for people thinking in terms of the internals, instead of for general users. (That this is a common failing of man pages does not make it any less a problem for git!)

                                                                            One way of saying it: git has effectively zero progressive disclosure of complexity. That makes it a continual source of paper cuts at minimum unless you’ve managed to actually fully internalize not only a correct mental model for it but in many cases the actual implementation mechanics on which it works.

                                                                            1. 3

                                                                              Its manpages are worthy of a parody: https://git-man-page-generator.lokaltog.net

                                                                            2. 2

                                                                              Its predecessors CVS and svn had much more intuitive commands (even if they were was clumsy to use in other ways). DARCS has been mentioned many times as being much more easy to use as well. People migrating from those tools really had a hard time, especially because git changed the meanings of some commands, like checkout.

                                                                              Then there were some other tools that came up around the same time or shortly after git but didn’t get the popularity of git like hg and bzr, which were much more pleasant to use as well.

                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                I think the issues people have are less about the CLI itself and more about how it interfaces with the (for some developers) complex and hard to understand concepts at hand.

                                                                                Take rebase for example. Once you grok what it is, it’s easy, but trying to explain the concept of replaying commits on top of others to someone used to old school tools like CVS or Subversion can be a challenge, especially when they REALLY DEEPLY don’t care and see this as an impediment to getting their work done.

                                                                                I’m a former release engineer, so I see the value in the magic Git brings to the table, but it can be a harder sell for some :)

                                                                              2. 5

                                                                                The interface is pretty bad.

                                                                                I would argue that this is one of the main reasons for git’s success. The CLI is so bad that people were motivated to look for tools to avoid using it. Some of them were motivated to write tools to avoid using it. There’s a much richer set of local GUI and web tools than I’ve seen for any other revision control system and this was true even when git was still quite new.

                                                                                I never used a GUI with CVS or Subversion, but I wanted to as soon as I started touching the git command line. I wanted features like PRs and web-based code review, because I didn’t want to merge things locally. I’ve subsequently learned a lot about how to use the git CLI and tend to use it for a lot of tasks. If it had been as good as, say, Mercurial’s from the start then I never would have adopted things like gitx / gitg and GitHub and it’s those things that make the git ecosystem a pleasant place to be.

                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                  The interface of Git and its underlying data models are two very different things, that are best treated separately.

                                                                                  Yes a thousand times this! :) Git’s data model has been a quantum leap for people who need to manage source code at scale. Speaking as a former release engineer, I used to be the poor schmoe who used to have to conduct Merge Day, where a branch gets merged back to main.

                                                                                  There was exactly one thing you could always guarantee about merge day: There Will Be Blood.

                                                                                  So let’s talk about looking past git’s god awful interface, but keep the amazing nubbins intact and doing the nearly miraculous work they do so well :)

                                                                                  And I don’t just mean throwing a GUI on top either. Let’s rethink the platonic ideal for how developers would want their workflow to look in 2022. Focus on the common case. Let the ascetics floating on a cloud of pure intellect script their perfect custom solutions, but make life better for the “cold dark matter” developers which are legion.

                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                    I would say that you simultaneously give credit where it is not due (there were multiple DVCSes before Git, and approximately every one had a better data model, and then there are things that Subversion still has better than everyone else, somehow), and ignore the part that actually made your life easier — the efforts of pushing Git down people’s throat, done by Linus Torvalds, spending orders of magnitude more of his time on this than on getting things right beyond basic workability in Git.

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      Not a DVCS expert here, so would you please consider enlightening me? Which earlier DVCS were forgotten?

                                                                                      My impressions of Mercurial and Bazaar are that they were SL-O-O-W, but they’re just anecdotal impressions.

                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                        Well, Bazaar is technically earlies. Monotone is significantly earlier. Monotone has quite interesting and nicely decoupled data model where the commit DAG is just one thing; changelog, author — and branches get the same treatment — are not parts of a commit, but separately stored claims about a commit, and this claim system is extensible and queriable. And of course Git was about Linus Torvalds speedrunning implementation of the parts of BitKeeper he really really needed.

                                                                                        It might be that in the old days running on Python limited speed of both Mercurial and Bazaar. Rumour has it that the Monotone version Torvalds found too slow was indeed a performance regression (they had one particularly slow release at around that time; Monotone is not in Python)

                                                                                        Note that one part of things making Git fast is that enables some optimisations that systems like Monotone make optional (it is quite optimistic about how quickly you can decide that the file must not have been modified, for example). Another is that it was originally only intended to be FS-safe on ext3… and then everyone forgot to care, so now it is quite likely to break the repository in case of unclean shutdown mid-operation. Yes, I have damaged repositories that way to a state where I could not find advice on how to avoid re-cloning to get even partially working repository.

                                                                                        As of Subversion, it has narrow checkouts which are a great feature, and DVCSes could also have them, but I don’t think anyone properly has them. You kind of can hack something with remote-automate in Monotone, but probably flakily.

                                                                                  2. 4

                                                                                    Let the data model pretend there’s a blob for each version of that huge file, even though in fact the software is automatically compressing & decompressing things under the hood.

                                                                                    Ironically, that’s part of the performance problem – compressing the packfiles tends to be where things hurt.

                                                                                    Still, this is definitely a solvable problem.

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      I used to love DARCS, but I think patch theory was probably the wrong choice.

                                                                                      I have created and maintains official test suite for pijul, i am the happiest user ever.

                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                        Hmm, knowing you I’m sure you’ve tested it to death.

                                                                                        I guess they got rid of the exponential conflict resolution that plagued DARCS? If so perhaps I should give patch theory another go. Git ended up winning the war before I got around to actually study patch theory, maybe it is sounder than I thought.

                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          Pijul is a completely different thing than Darcs, the current state of a repository in Pijul is actually a special instance of a CRDT, which is exactly what you want for a version control system.

                                                                                          Git is also a CRDT, but HEAD isn’t (unlike in Pijul), the CRDT in Git is the entire history, and that is not a very useful property.

                                                                                        2. 1

                                                                                          Best test suite ever. Thanks again, and again, and again for that. It also helped debug Sanakirja, a database engine used as the foundation of Pijul, but usable in other contexts.

                                                                                        3. 2

                                                                                          There are git-compatible alternatives that keep the underlying model and change the interface. The most prominent of these is probably gitless.

                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                            I’ve been using git entirely via UI because of that. Much better overview, much more intuitive, less unwanted side effects.

                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              You can’t describe Git without discussing rebase and merge: these are the two most common operations in Git, yet they don’t satisfy any interesting mathematical property such as associativity or symmetry:

                                                                                              • Associativity is when you want to merge your commits one by one from a remote branch. This should intuitively be the same as merging the remote HEAD, but Git manages to make it different sometimes. When that happens, your lines can be shuffled around more or less randomly.

                                                                                              • Symmetry means that merging A and B is the same as merging B and A. Two coauthors doing the same conflictless merge might end up with different results. This is one of the main benefits of GitHub: merges are never done concurrently when you use a central server.

                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                Well, at least this is not the fault of the data model: if you have all the snapshots, you can deduce all the patches. It’s the operations themselves that need fixing.

                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                  My point is that this is a common misconception: no datastructure is ever relevant without considering the common operations we want to run on it.

                                                                                                  For Git repos, you can deduce all the patches indeed, but merge and rebase can’t be fixed while keeping a reasonable performance, since the merge problem Git tries to solve is the wrong one (“merge the HEADs, knowing their youngest common ancestor”). That problem cannot have enough information to satisfy basic intuitive properties.

                                                                                                  The only way to fix it is to fetch the entire sequence of commits from the common ancestor. This is certainly doable in Git, but merges become O(n) in time complexity, where n is the size of history.

                                                                                                  The good news is, this is possible. The price to pay is a slightly more complex datastructure, slightly harder to implement (but manageable). Obviously, the downside is that it can’t be consistent with Git, since we need more information. On the bright side, it’s been implemented: https://pijul.org

                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                    no datastructure is ever relevant without considering the common operations we want to run on it.

                                                                                                    Agreed. Now, how often do we actually merge stuff, and how far is the common ancestor in practice?

                                                                                                    My understanding of the usage of version control is that merging two big branches (with an old common ancestor) is rare. Far more often we merge (or rebase) work units with just a couple commits. Even more often than that we have one commit that’s late, so we just pull in the latest change then merge or rebase that one commit. And there are the checkout operations, which in some cases can occur most frequently. While a patch model would no doubt facilitate merges, it may not be worth the cost of making other, arguably more frequent operations, slower.

                                                                                                    (Of course, my argument is moot until we actually measure. But remember that Git won in no small part because of its performance.)

                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                      I agree with all that, except that:

                                                                                                      • the only proper modelling of conflicts, merges and rebases/cherry-picking I know of (Pijul) can’t rely on common ancestors only, because rebases can make some future merges more complex than a simple 3-way merge problem.

                                                                                                      • I know many engineers are fascinated by Git’s speed, but the algorithm running on the CPU is almost never the bottleneck: the operator’s brain is usually much slower than the CPU in any modern version control system (even Darcs has fixed its exponential merge). Conflicts do happen, so do cherry-picks and rebases. They aren’t rare in large projects, and can be extremely confusing without proper tools. Making these algorithms fast is IMHO much more important from a cost perspective than gaining 10% on a operation already taking less than 0.1 second. I won’t deny the facts though: if Pijul isn’t used more in industry, it could be partly because that opinion isn’t widely shared.

                                                                                                      • some common algorithmic operations in Git are slower than in Pijul (pijul credit is much faster than git blame on large instances), and most operations are comparable in speed. One thing where Git is faster is browsing old history: the datastructures are ready in Pijul, but I haven’t implemented the operations yet (I promised I would do that as soon as this is needed by a real project).

                                                                                            2. 17

                                                                                              It’s a bit of shame that Mercurial didn’t prevail, as it does solves most of the usability and model limits. See in particular Mercurial’s histedit extension to safely rewrite commits. Git seems to have sedimented deeply in our toolchain, and I think it’s here to stay for a while, the hope being that the porcelain (UI) gets completely reworked while keeping compatibility with current workflows and tools (ie GitHub).

                                                                                              1. 8

                                                                                                If you have had a chance to look at the Evolve extension. I actively worked on histedit and found it once Mercurial’s weakest part (as well as git rebase) as it require users to retain state in their mind between commands. Evolve goes beyond that by smartly tracking not just the history, but the changes between history (commit a moved to become b, and so on). As a result, a lot of amending, moving, etc of commits can be done by one command as evolve keeps track of what needs to follow.

                                                                                                To illustrate in the simplest way: You can just go back to any non-public commit (another amazing concept in Mercurial), amend it, and then use evolve to automatically rebase the previous commits on top of it, without the user having to continously stay in a “rebase” state. Of course you still need that one more command to run at the end, but i found it much easier to reason about.

                                                                                                1. 7

                                                                                                  I was a Mercurial hold-out for the longest time, and Evolve was a nice thing to boast about, although I didn’t use it that much.

                                                                                                  However, after discovering Magit (Emacs), I finally switched all my remaining personal repos to Git, firstly because far more people and services know/support Git, and second because with Magit I was getting a much nicer UI than either command line hg or any other UI I could find for Mercurial.

                                                                                                  In particular, while Mercurial’s Evolve is cool, with Magit rebases and “instant fixups”, which I do a lot, are now very fast and pretty painless most of the time.

                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                    Magit is indeed wonderful. I wish I could move to Emacs but I am stuck in vim and/or helix.

                                                                                                    In the end I also switched off mercurial , mostly due to convenience and just how dominant GitHub & Co got. Still lucky to have it at work (although highly modified)

                                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                                      Curious what keeps you stuck.

                                                                                                      Also you can use magit without using emacs as your editor.

                                                                                                  2. 2

                                                                                                    Yes, I did try to use evolve when I was using Mercurial for my main workflow, but somehow never managed to wrap my head around it and integrated it. I mostly used histedit to squash and cherry pick commits, which I found pretty good for my needs. What made me quit Mercurial was that I was using hg-git (with Github, as Bitbucket was winding down Mercurial support and sr.ht wasn’t there at the time), and after an update I was unable to clone repositories anymore, due a to a low-level format change.

                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                      Are you describing hg up, hg amend, and hg restack? Or is Evolve some whole other thing?

                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                        I think hg restack is a Meta/FB thing, but I think it’s based on the same tracking of how commits are rewritten as Evolve uses, and I think they provide similar workflows. https://www.mercurial-scm.org/doc/evolution/ has information about the Evolve extension.

                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                          Just read the guide. Yeah restack and evolve look the same to me. The only difference I noticed is that Meta makes restack an automatic operation after amend.

                                                                                                    2. 5

                                                                                                      Git seems to have sedimented deeply in our toolchain, and I think it’s here to stay for a while, the hope being that the porcelain (UI) gets completely reworked while keeping compatibility with current workflows and tools (ie GitHub).

                                                                                                      I hear this loud and clear. Thank you for your comment, it’s a great point considering the immaturity of, say, Pijul’s Next software/service.

                                                                                                    3. 16

                                                                                                      After 5 years of using Mercurial I’m now at a new job using git and I want to murder myself. It’s so awful. And I used to work on git tooling two jobs ago so I’m not new to it.

                                                                                                      I’m constantly performing unsafe operations. Rewriting history is somehow both unsafe and extremely painful. Maintaining small, stacked PR branches is nearly impossible without tooling like git-branchless.

                                                                                                      I’ve convinced that anyone that says “git is not the absolute worst thing ever” has not invested enough time into learning better systems, even closely related ones like Mercurial.

                                                                                                      Everyone using git is so distracted by their accomplishment of learning how to survive git’s UI and by reading blog posts explaining clean history and squashing and all this irrelevant philosophy that they forgot to examine if any of it was necessary.

                                                                                                      1. 11

                                                                                                        Do you know of any good write-ups that explain to git users, in a constructive way, why none of it is necessary? I used SVN up until ~2010 when I switched to git, and my experience using git is far better than it ever was with SVN. I’ve never used mercurial. Any articles I can find that attempt to tell folks about better alternatives usually devolve (like your comment) into some git-bashing piece. Usually if you want to convince someone that they are doing the wrong thing, it’s not helpful to spend a lot of time telling them they are doing the wrong thing.

                                                                                                        Everyone using git is so distracted by their accomplishment of learning how to survive git’s UI and by reading blog posts explaining clean history and squashing and all this irrelevant philosophy that they forgot to examine if any of it was necessary.

                                                                                                        I don’t think it’s fair to say “everyone”, it sounds like you’re now using git after all :P

                                                                                                        1. 6

                                                                                                          I’ve only seen rants that give specific examples of how insane the command UI is without giving practical example of how’d you’d end up using those commands and rants that give concrete examples without showing alternatives. I agree with them but they don’t illustrate the problems to git users very well.

                                                                                                          I’m sure a good rant is out there but I can’t find it. Perhaps I need to write it instead of red-in-the-face ranting to lobsters and my friends :p

                                                                                                          1. 5

                                                                                                            Write it, I’d read it! :D

                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                              Perhaps I need to write it instead of red-in-the-face ranting to lobsters and my friends :p

                                                                                                              I’ll be checking your user page so I don’t miss it :D

                                                                                                          2. 5

                                                                                                            Maybe jj/Jujutsu (mentioned in the article) is what you need instead of the actual git client. I personally find interactive rebase far more intuitive than branchless/jj commands…

                                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                                              It’s really not just a question of intuitiveness, though. For example, how do you split an ancestor commit into two? An interactive rebase where you edit the commit, reset head, commit in parts, and then continue? What do you do with the original commit message? Store it temporarily in a text file before you reset? That’s madness. And the git add -p interface is embarrassing compared to hg split.

                                                                                                              I don’t mind interactive rebase but why are there no abstractions on top of it, and why is it so hard to use non-destructively?

                                                                                                              And thanks for the pointer, I’ll bump checking out jujutsu higher on my todo list.

                                                                                                            2. 3

                                                                                                              I’m constantly performing unsafe operations. Rewriting history is somehow both unsafe and extremely painful.

                                                                                                              I’ve literally destroyed hours or days of work by rewriting history in git so that it would be “clean”.

                                                                                                              Everyone using git is so distracted by their accomplishment of learning how to survive git’s UI and by reading blog posts explaining clean history and squashing and all this irrelevant philosophy that they forgot to examine if any of it was necessary.

                                                                                                              It is as though “git log” et al encourage a certain kind of pointless navel-gazing.

                                                                                                              1. 5

                                                                                                                I’ve literally destroyed hours or days of work by rewriting history in git so that it would be “clean”.

                                                                                                                Before doing complex operations, I run git tag x and can reset with git reset --hard x any time. (Using the reflog after the fact is also possible, but having a temporary tag is nicer to use.)

                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                  I do the same but with git branch -c backup, and then git branch -d backup when I’m successfully done rebasing. I also often git push backup so I have redundancy outside my current working copy.

                                                                                                                  And to the grandparent post: I find git log invaluable in understanding the history of code, and leave good commit messages as a kindness to future maintainers (including myself) because meaningless commit messages have cost me so much extra time in trying to understand why a given piece of code changed the way it did. The point of all of that is not to enable navel-gazing but to communicate the intent of a change clearly for someone who lacks the context you have in your head when making the change.

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                                                                                                                    This command will show you all the things your branch has ever been, so if a rebase goes wrong you can easily see what you might need to reset to. (Replace <branch> with your branch name.)

                                                                                                                    BRANCH=<branch>; \
                                                                                                                    PAGER="less -S" \
                                                                                                                    git log --graph \
                                                                                                                            --decorate \
                                                                                                                            --pretty=format:"%C(auto)%h %<(7,trunc)%C(auto)%ae%Creset%C(auto)%d %s [%ar]%Creset" \
                                                                                                                            $(git reflog $BRANCH | cut '-d ' -f1)
                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                  2. 3

                                                                                                                    I’ve done incorrect history edits too, but I don’t think I’ve ever done one that I couldn’t immediately undo using the reflog.

                                                                                                                2. 15

                                                                                                                  I was just thinking about starting a project with Fossil SCM just to get away from Git for a minute.

                                                                                                                  The main reason is that I’m worried culturally Github will eat Git. I already have a coworker who refers to Github Actions as Git Actions, even after I went the route to correct him.

                                                                                                                  Mainly attracted by the “single binary” concept of Fossil.

                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                    I tried the same with Pijul and found that I really missed integration with my prompt since I rely on it more than I realized!

                                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                                      That’s a good point. Maybe a good project would be writing some Fossil (shell) integrations. I imagine software integration is paramount to ween off Git.

                                                                                                                    2. 2

                                                                                                                      I was just thinking about starting a project with Fossil SCM just to get away from Git for a minute.

                                                                                                                      I store all my personal notes in a fossil repository and host locally on my Linux server. After over six months of doing this, I’d rate it as a super easy way to to write, host Markdown docs, and sync between multiple machines.

                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                        This is similar to what I’m aiming for, but more media-centric.

                                                                                                                    3. 7

                                                                                                                      I tried fossil for a bit and it seems extremely promising, aside from not being able to purge “asfgs” commits when trying to text CI. But as you said, using something other than git cuts you off from the larger ecosystem.

                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                        I tried Fossil on a whim for a small project three years ago and adored it so much that I’ve used it for several larger ones since. It solves a lot of problems in a very small footprint.

                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                          What is an “asfgs” commit?

                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                            When the CI/CD config is stored in a yaml and the only way to see if I set it up write is to commit and push

                                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                                              test CI… Now I get it :)

                                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                                Curse you touchscreen swiping

                                                                                                                        2. 5

                                                                                                                          After years of using git, which I think is a result of your influence over a set of mutual colleagues, I can’t imaging using a VCS without git’s capabilities. However, the quote: “git is a version control toolbox masquerading as a complete VCS” is pretty accurate. I can easily imagine using different UI over the current git internals.

                                                                                                                          Have you tried magit mode in Emacs?

                                                                                                                          1. 8

                                                                                                                            The answer: No, it isn’t. Problems withstanding.

                                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                                              How’s that one saying go? “Any headline that ends with a question mark can be answered with ‘no’”

                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                You should write an “Is climate change real?” article. Maybe that will stop it.

                                                                                                                                1. 10

                                                                                                                                  No, write an article titled “Is Betteridge’s Law of Headlines accurate?”.

                                                                                                                            2. 4

                                                                                                                              @martinvonz is working on a git compatible DVCS previously discussed here: https://lobste.rs/s/47zztj/jujutsu_dvcs

                                                                                                                              Jujutsu is a Git-compatible DVCS. It combines features from Git (data model, speed), Mercurial (anonymous branching, simple CLI free from “the index”, revsets, powerful history-rewriting), and Pijul/Darcs (first-class conflicts), with features not found in either of them (working-copy-as-a-commit, undo functionality, automatic rebase, safe replication via rsync, Dropbox, or distributed file system).

                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                Yes! I mentioned this in the article. What do you think of it?

                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                  I’m a very big fan of two aspects of it.

                                                                                                                                  One is the similarity with mercurial where you can just start editing any commit (jj touchup -r <revision>). I find this to help me keep changes associated with other changes together. With git, I’ll edit out of order, with the intention of going back and interactively rebasing, but that can often fail or be forgotten.

                                                                                                                                  The other aspect of it that I really like is that you’re always working on a full commit. With git, I would end up with a bunch of stashes or dirty directories, and this helps me stay more organized and less cluttered.

                                                                                                                                  Something that makes it easy to try out is the compatibility with upstream git repos. Hopefully you can give it a try on some small bit of work someday soon.

                                                                                                                              2. 3

                                                                                                                                My best guess, is that Git is a local maximum we’re going to be stuck on until we move away from the entire concept of “historic sequence of whole trees of static text” as SCM.

                                                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                                                  darcs/pijul are the move away from fixed sequences of entire blobs. If only there was some powerful force to drive the adoption of pijul…

                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                    There’s nothing more powerful than people and project adopting it one by one. If you start a new project, using Pijul and the Nest is the best thing you can do to make the project grow.

                                                                                                                                2. 2

                                                                                                                                  I seem to recall that there we an announcement from a pijul author that pijul was in maintenance mode and that he was working on a new VCS. I can’t find mention of this VCS now though. Does anyone remember this?

                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                    I’m the author, this is totally wrong.

                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                      Thank you for the clarification. I’m not sure how I ended up remembering something that never happened.

                                                                                                                                    2. 2

                                                                                                                                      I seriously doubt this is the case. There’s been a huge amount of work on pijul and it’s related ecosystem.

                                                                                                                                      If I’m wrong, I’d love to know otherwise.

                                                                                                                                    3. 1

                                                                                                                                      My biggest gripe with git is diff and merge. They operate on lines, but code has a syntax. Many times have I had unnecessary merge conflicts or merge downright silently breaking code. Janestreet has shown syntaxes correlate with word boundaries and treesitter can parse many languages directly, but the line-based approach is deeply rooted in git.

                                                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                                                        You can replace git’s default merge tool with any you like, so this isn’t really a git problem.