Git and Github in the workplace

Git and Github in the workplace

Today we started using Git. We are using Github to host our repositories for a private project. Previously we have been an SVN shop and have built various deployment systems around it.

I have encountered the following issues, and will separate them into two sections; those relating to Git as a tool, and those relating to Github as a service.

Github Issues

User management and access control

As a Systems Administrator and Developer I spend my time both writing applications and maintaining services for other developers. One of these services is version control. In the past we used SVN and setup a master password list containing users for each developer. It wasn't perfect, but because it was hosted internally, the only way to access it from outside was using a VPN that authenticated against the master Active Directory server.

Git as a tool seems to provide good user management and access control by utilising SSH, where each user can have either a separate system account, or login to a shared account using an SSH key.

In the event that an employee left and needed their account revoked, simply removing that user or their key would suffice. In addition because it would be hosted internally, any access would be done through the VPN, and presumably their AD account would also be shut down.

However with Github, which encourages 'social coding', the access control and user management is severely limited. Firstly, each user has their own Github account that is in no way related to the company's project account. They are then invited to join a company repository as a 'collaborator'. Unfortunately this is done on a per-repository basis, meaning that removal of a user must be done manually for each.

No prizes for guessing for who is going to get lumbered with that task!

Archive Support

Github have disabled archive support in Git, meaning that you cannot export a tagged release for packaging. Instead you have to clone or pull a repo, and then package it. This is inefficient as it also pulls down all commit changes, which are not necessary when packaging software.

Git Issues

The first issue relates to the previous issue. This is extracting code from a repo for packaging without also downloading all the commit changes.

There is no equivalent of svn export, and whilst archive appears to be what I need, Github does not support this. I don't know if this is a problem with Git or Github, either way it is annoying.

The other issue is complexity. Granted I am new to all this distributed version control stuff, so will stick with it. But when I started using SVN it just clicked and immediately made my life easier. I'm not sure when I will be needing Git's advanced features, but currently Git itself doesn't seem to offer any benefits to my work flow (although Github's code review is useful).


So all in all, not too bad of a start with Git. Although at the moment I am not using the full power of Git (i.e. forking/merging) as I have absolutely no need for it and would prefer to spend my time coding than messing with version control.

I am currently just pushing back to the master repository at Github, and although this isn't very 'cool', it suits my needs well (as SVN did).

My message to those considering switching to Git would be: If you are having trouble with conflicting commits or are looking to use a hosted service like Github that gives you added extras (like code reviews) then go for it.

If on the other hand you are happy with SVN and its limitations, then stick with it, and if you are looking for the added benefits of a hosted service, try something like Unfuddle.