Graphical User Interfaces for Distributed Version Control Systems

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Institutionen för datavetenskap

Abstract: Version control is an important tool for safekeeping of data and collaboration between colleagues. These days, new distributed version control systems are growing increasingly popular as successors to centralized systems like CVS and Subversion. Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) make it easier to interact with version control systems, but GUIs for distributed systems are still few and less mature than those available for centralized systems. The purpose of this thesis was to propose specific GUI ideas to make distributed systems more accessible. To accomplish this, existing version control systems and GUIs were examined. A usage survey was conducted with 20 participants consisting of software engineers. Participants were asked to score various aspects of version control systems according to usage frequency and usage difficulty. These scores were combined into an index of each aspect's "unusability" and thus its need of improvement. The primary problems identified were committing, inspecting the working set, inspecting history and synchronizing. In response, a commit helper, a repository visualizer and a favorite repositories list were proposed, along with several smaller suggestions. These proposals should constitute a good starting point for developing GUIs for distributed version control systems.

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