Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why I still prefer using TFS vs. using Git

On all of my recent projects, I have been primarily using Git source control mainly because of the features for local feature branches for locally developing features and functionality without committing a branch directly to the main source control repository.

Of course, being a Microsoft developer, I am using Git within the Visual Studio IDE which presents its own challenges since Git support was added to the Visual Studio IDE very recently and mainly as an afterthought for functionality to cater to the needs of non-Microsoft-centric developers.

However, TFS is a platform which has been around for the last 11 years and has very robust and full-featured support within the Visual Studio IDE and provides many more features and functionality directly within the Visual Studio IDE.  In addition, many features are much more easily accessible and usable than with Git support in the Visual Studio IDE.

  1. First of all, Visual Studio has full support for viewing source control for TFS using Source Control Explorer directly within the Visual Studio IDE.  Unfortunately, while using Git, the developer is forced to browse to the repository within the browser in order to view source.
  2. Using Source Control Explorer within the Visual Studio IDE with TFS, you get much better visualization of the branching structure and how branches are interrelated to each other.
  3. Using Source Control Explorer within the Visual Studio IDE with TFS, you also have the ability to view "deleted" files from the TFS repository.  Using Git within the browser, there are no such options.
  4. Performing commits within TFS allows for meaningful commit numbers called "Changesets" which are easily understandable and can be readily remembered.  However, with Git, commits are very long random GUIDs which are neither easily understandable nor remembered.
  5. TFS allows committing just a single file even when there are other pending edits on your file system, while Git ALWAYS requires a commit and pull request before committing/pushing even a SINGLE file.
  6. Using Git within the Visual Studio IDE, only a very small portion of the total commands for using Git are available from a GUI interface.  All other operations require using a separate GIT client such as SourceTree or GitKraken or requires using the Git Command-Line client.  However, using TFS, nearly every operation is available within the GUI while only a few operations require using the TFS Power Tools through the command-line interface.
  7. Code Reviews within Git require a branching strategy and creating Pull requests from within the browser, while Code Reviews within TFS can be done on any committed code and are significantly easier and can be initiated directly from within the Visual Studio IDE.
  8. 3rd party merging and comparison tools such as Beyond Compare can be readily integrated into the IDE while using TFS, however, using Git only supports Visual Studio's built-in comparison and merging by default.  In order to support Beyond Compare for Git requires the installation of the Git Extensions for Visual Studio which still provides incomplete support at best.
  9. TFS allows "Shelving" support directly within the IDE as well as easily reviewing Shelvesets, however, Visual Studio has no built-in support for "Stashing" when using Git.  
So, even though Git is becoming increasingly popular to use as a source control repository, for Microsoft-based developers using the Visual Studio IDE, using Git over TFS presents some significant disadvantages that should be carefully weighed and considered before choosing Git over TFS as the de facto source control repository for your development team and organization.

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