Tag Archives: mercurial


Subversion has been the version control system used on all projects I’ve worked on so far apart from one, which used Git. So when I wanted a VCS for a small personal project, I was keen to try Mercurial. Although I realise that with only me working on it, I won’t get the full experience of using Mercurial.

First good thing for my use case is that it doesn’t require me to set up a local server – good.

I can recommend the Hg Init tutorial by Joel Spolsky, which includes a section on “Subversion re-education”. The key things I’ve picked up are:

  • “Mercurial separates the act of committing new code from the act of inflicting it on everybody else”
  • “because Mercurial thinks in terms of “changesets” instead of “revisions” it can merge code much better than Subversion”
    • “that means that you can feel free to branch because the merge isn’t going to be a nightmare”
  • unlike in SVN, all commands apply to the entire tree (rather than just the directory in which you invoke the command)
    • in a company, you’d therefore want many smaller repositories for each project rather than one big one
  • “pulls” pulls the latest changes to a local repository, doesn’t switch our working copy to actually use them

This Stack Exchange Programmers question is also worth a read, as well as Martin Fowler’s article on Version Control Tools. The latter has an interesting idea at the end which is to use multiple VCSs to get around issues caused by corporate standards demanding the use of a “deficient” VCS such as Visual SourceSafe.