The Git feature that really makes it stand apart from nearly every other SCM out there is its branching model.
The creation, merging, and deletion of those lines of development takes seconds.
This means that you can do things like:
Frictionless Context Switching. Create a branch to try out an idea, commit a few times, switch back to where you branched from, apply a patch, switch back to where you are experimenting, and merge it in.
Role-Based Codelines. Have a branch that always contains only what goes to production, another that you merge work into for testing, and several smaller ones for day to day work.
Feature Based Workflow. Create new branches for each new feature you're working on so you can seamlessly switch back and forth between them, then delete each branch when that feature gets merged into your main line.
Disposable Experimentation. Create a branch to experiment in, realize it's not going to work, and just delete it - abandoning the work---with nobody else ever seeing it (even if you've pushed other branches in the meantime).
Notably, when you push to a remote repository, you do not have to push all of your branches. You can choose to share just one of your branches, a few of them, or all of them. This tends to free people to try new ideas without worrying about having to plan how and when they are going to merge it in or share it with others.
There are ways to accomplish some of this with other systems, but the work involved is much more difficult and error-prone. Git makes this process incredibly easy and it changes the way most developers work when they learn it.
Small and Fast
Git is fast. With Git, nearly all operations are performed locally, giving it a huge speed advantage on centralized systems that constantly have to communicate with a server somewhere.
Git was built to work on the Linux kernel, meaning that it has had to effectively handle large repositories from day one. Git is written in C, reducing the overhead of runtimes associated with higher-level languages. Speed and performance has been a primary design goal of the Git from the start.
Let's see how common operations stack up against Subversion, a common centralized version control system that is similar to CVS or Perforce. Smaller is faster.
For testing, large AWS instances were set up in the same availability zone. Git and SVN were installed on both machines, the Ruby repository was copied to both Git and SVN servers, and common operations were performed on both.
In some cases the commands don't match up exactly. Here, matching on the lowest common denominator was attempted. For example, the 'commit' tests also include the time to push for Git, though most of the time you would not actually be pushing to the server immediately after a commit where the two commands cannot be separated in SVN.
All of these times are in seconds.
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