git Is Great With Obsolete Source Control Systems

git has a lot of traction in software development for many, many reasons. Clearly it’s a good tool to have experience with. Some folks are tied to legacy systems/processes that demand continued use of obsolete source control systems. It is possible to use git within that environment to a great advantage!

It’s very straightforward & simple: create a git repository (“local repo”) in a directory under source control (pick a directory with simple files and small in number); create a .gitignore file to trim the nonsense; configure the obsolete source control to ignore the .git folder & .gitignore file and you’re ready to go.

A system I’m familiar with has significant technical debt. Let’s assume a new feature X needs to be added. The source on my disk is updated from the obsolete system to be sure of currency. Now update git to get the local repo to the same baseline. I then create a git branch called “X-hygiene” to contain refactoring, code clean up, etc. Once that bit of work is resolved, I create the feature branch, “X”. This allows the refactored code to be the basis of X. As work progresses, additional hygiene needs to be done – no problem at all with git. Switch to the X-hygiene branch for more updates, switch back to X and merge the X-hygiene updates into X. Rinse, wash, repeat…

When you’re ready for the 1st code review, commit the X-hygiene branch for review. After that’s completed, the team can now review X as a delta from X-hygiene. X is committed into the obsolete system to complete the feature. (Don’t forget to merge X back into the git master branch.)

I’ve found other items to be very productive as well:

  • git branches allow for easy experimentation. Incredibly helpful when you’re getting into new technology or new functionality and need to learn a bit by experimenting.
  • Tortoise-git has very, very helpful diff tools. For example, it can quickly point out just the data that has changed inside hideous XML data file; do not discount how enjoyable these reviews become.
  • git local repos are incredibly fast, which makes branching a joy to use. This in turn encourages experimentation (learning) which is just too good an opportunity to pass up!

In summary, if you are trapped in the mire of a creaky, old nasty source control system, experiment with git. It is very heartening and dare I say, fun to use.


git Is Great With Obsolete Source Control Systems

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