Emacs Got Git

April 29, 2010

I saw Emacs Got Git, sometimes called "Egg", listed on the list of git-related software on the git wiki (although now taken down) and of course on the EmacsWiki. I decided I’d give it a whirl. The most recent version I could find was the one listed on the EmacsWiki, the version from bplayer, which seems to still be actively developed. The incumbent here is either magit, which is by far the best user interface I’ve ever seen for any version control anywhere, or VC mode, which was written once to support SCCS and has largely survived unchanged since then.

A brief digression about magit and vc-mode. Magit is a little bit of a challenge to pick up: you actually have to read the manual. But the short version is: M-x magit-status to open a view of your repository, and then TAB things open and closed. You can press "s" to stage files, hunks, or even "highlight" lines using the region and stage only those. "u" to unstage; "c" to start a commit, and then C-c C-c to make the commit. You can create a commit that amends the previous commit by pressing C-c C-a in the log message buffer. It probably offends some that there are already conventions here for VC system integration, notably vc-mode. But vc-mode takes a file-based view of version control, has no support for staging hunks, and in general just doesn’t feel good to use. magit is much better — so much better that it is easily worth the break in convention.

So I thought I’d check out Emacs Got Git, to see if it was any better than magit. This isn’t a detailed analysis — actually I’ve probably spent longer writing this post than I did looking at Egg.

I find a screenshot is worth a thousand words. On my ~/etc repository, magit looks like this:


Magit highlights all the important details: which files are changed? Which are untracked? What commits exist locally that don’t exist on the remote?

On the same repo, Egg looks like this:


This is what we call the "angry fruit salad" school of UI design. Also, it doesn’t have a section for "unpushed" commits.

I’m going to be sticking with magit for the forseeable future.

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