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Kemal Cholovich
Kemal Cholovich

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Alternatives to Git in 2024: What Every Developer Must Know

While Git remains a popular powerhouse in version control, recognizing situations where alternatives might excel is crucial. Let's dive into reasons to consider broadening your version control horizons in 2024:

Challenges with Git

  • Steep Learning Curve: Git's extensive commands can be overwhelming for beginners or less technically inclined team members.
  • Scaling Issues: Extremely large projects (like Facebook's monorepo) can strain Git's performance limits.
  • Code-centric Focus: Git shines with code, but projects heavily involving large datasets or non-textual assets may benefit from specialized solutions.

Promising Alternatives

  • Mercurial (Hg): Prioritizes user-friendliness with a streamlined interface and workflow. Well-suited to smaller teams or projects seeking simplicity.
  • Fossil: A unique system integrating version control, wiki, bug tracking, and forums. Perfect for projects where heavy documentation and collaboration are key.
  • Pijul: Based on patch theory, Pijul aims to improve upon Git's merge handling and historical tracking. Its potential is compelling, though adoption remains less widespread than established options.
  • Subversion (SVN): A classic centralized VCS favoring a linear workflow. Can be ideal when strict control and less focus on complex branching are desired.

The Facebook Example

Facebook's decision to leave Git sheds light on challenges it can face in certain scenarios:

  • Scaling Limitations: Their massive monorepo pushed Git's limits, hindering developer productivity.
  • Workflow Needs: Facebook sought stronger centralized control and custom workflows, which Git's decentralized nature doesn't easily support.

Facebook's Solution: Initially, they migrated to Mercurial for its better handling of large repositories. Eventually, they created their own system, "Sapling", tailored to their specific needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Extreme Scale: Facebook demonstrates Git's potential struggles at extraordinary scales uncommon for most development teams.
  • Specific Requirements: Their unique workflow heavily influenced their decision.
  • Context is Key: The "best" version control depends heavily on your project's requirements.

Git vs. Mercurial: Common Differences

Feature Git Mercurial
Philosophy Flexibility, powerful Simplicity, ease-of-use
Command Structure Complex, more granular control Simpler, more intuitive
Branching Lightweight, easy to create Branches are heavier, intentional decision
History Stores changes as snapshots Stores changes as changesets

Choosing in 2024: Factors to Consider

  • Team Dynamics: Favor simplicity? Mercurial offers an easier onboarding process.
  • Project Nature: Do you often work with large datasets or non-text assets?
  • Collaboration Style: Complex merges a pain point? Pijul's theory could be interesting.
  • Workflow Needs: Does a centralized model like Subversion better align with your team's structure?

The Takeaway

Git is a strong standard, yet understanding the value of alternatives is empowering. Explore the landscape to find the system that best facilitates your team's success!


  1. Mercurial SCM:
  2. Fossil:
  3. Pijul:
  4. Apache Subversion:
  5. Git SCM:
  6. A Detailed Comparison of Git and Mercurial: URL
  7. Facebook Engineering: Sapling Source Control URL

Kemal Cholovich

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