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Mike Riley

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Version Control with Git Book Review

July 27, 2009

Within weeks of publishing Mercurial: The Definitive Guide, O'Reilly has released their treatment of another highly popular distributed version control system.  Readers of my blog and tweets already know of my switch from Subversion to Git several months ago, so I was curious to see how another perspective views this powerful yet intricate revision control tool.  Read on to find out.

Author Jon Loeliger is a Git contributor, author of several Git articles and Git tutorial presentations.  His qualifications as a communicator and Git power user are explicitly revealed in his work.  While explanations are at times dense and verbose, readers who can follow along will learn more about Git in this book than they will compared to other printed books about Git available today.

Version Control with Git is packed with sixteen chapters that cover the usual introduction to the what and why of Git, how to install it and use it in a typical repository create/check-in/check-out code asset scenario.  After these first four chapters, each chapter following dive into specific Git features and functions like file management, commits, branches, diffs, merges, repository management, working with patches and hooks and combining projects.  The book concludes with a chapter on using Git with Subversion repositories, unique in that it's a recognition that legacy SVN repositories will need integration with Git for at least the near future.

Chapter 11 on Remote Repositories is also the longest (just over 35 pages), and helped me solidify my understanding of how Git works in an optimal remote source control storage scenario.  The chapter following it on repository management further assisted with its explanation of such topics as upstream/downstream flows and role duality.

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical when I began reading this book.  What more could it deliver beyond what has already been published online and in print?  While Travis Swicegood's Pragmatic Version Control Using Git, wasn't perfect, it contained enough useful information to catch the infectious enthusiasm and powerful capabilities Git has to offer.  By the forth chapter, however, I was surprised how much deeper Version Control with Git delved into the nuts and bolts of Git and how this made understanding the reasons behind why Git does what it does.  While I still believe that Scott Chacon's free GitCasts video tutorial series is the fastest, most approachable (and least expensive) way to learn Git, Version Control with Git has its place among the Git commercial educational offerings.

This is not a book for the impatient developer who has to just learn the essentials of Git to get by.  Rather, it is for the individual who seeks a more comprehensive understanding of Git internals so they can work with Git with a high degree of confidence.

Title: Version Control with Git
Author: Jon Loeliger
ISBN: 978-0-596-52012-0
Pages: 328
Price: $34.99 US

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