Monday, April 27, 2009

How To Win By Not Mattering

This is all about the strange and confusing state of win we see repeatedly today, where a brand or concept gains such control and mindshare that no one even recognizes them as a thing anymore. Few people think of Q-tips as a brand versus just being the name of a thing. Pepsi Co executives probably grind their teeth thinking about movie goers ordering "just a coke" when Pepsi products are prominently and solely for sale. Most Internet Explorer users go beyond not understanding what IE is, they don't even understand what a browser is!

Today, I want to talk about something newer and more specific, and less sure. The direction is visible that Mercurial is being given steps (it is important to phrase it this way, as I'll explain) to not matter, and that is precisely why they will win.

CVS still matters, which is precisely why it has lost so utterly in the imaginary battle for geek mindshare. If you are using CVS, it is important to remember that along the way, because it affects how you work and what you can do. Subversion still matters, but less so, as it stays largely out of your way.

None of the layers in the DVCS arena matter very much, because none of them are very different from the others. Git and Mercurial and Darcs? They all behave similar enough that none of them offer anything different, beyond community and how to deal with failures. Now, Google announces upcoming Mercurial support for Google Code, but the real thing that stood out to me is that they built their own implementation over Bigtable. They are not supporting Mercurial, they are supporting the mercurial format.

It wouldn't be difficult to do the same thing and implement any one of them in any one of the others. I think by next year you'll see git and mercurial doing push/pull between one another.

Note: This was a crappy post and I try to stay away from posting just to post, but I'm getting back into the swing of things. Give me a break, yeah?

Next Post: How To Give Up to Succeed (Maybe public commitments will force me to write, lest I be publically humilated!)

2 comments:

Paddy3118 said...

You've made me think now about how they have done it. I had thought they had took Hg's interface to the filesystem and then mapped it to Bigtable - like the duck-typing substitution of StringIO for a file object in Python.

If they don't have a clean, maintainable, interface to the originam HG codebase, then the two could diverge!

- Paddy.

Paul said...

I don't know how similar Mercurial and git are, but darcs is certainly not very much like git. Darcs operates on patches and does not really care about their ordering -- you can selectively push and pull patches so long as there is no conflict. This is very difficult to do with git.

I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.