New Desktop Client for Git and Mercurial on Windows

Atlassian today released to beta a new version of its SourceTree desktop client for the Git and Mercurial distributed version control systems (DVCSes) for Windows. Previously available only on the Mac OS, SourceTree is free and is designed to work with the company's two DVCS products: Stash, an on-premises DVCS for enterprise teams; and Bitbucket, a cloud-based DVCS hosting service.

Mercurial is an open source DVCS primarily implemented in Python. Git was developed by Linus Torvalds for the Linux kernel. Both have been growing in popularity among developers, said RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady, because such decentralized tools offer a fundamental advantage over centralized DVCSes, such as Subversion, CVS and Perforce, which preceded them.

"By design, they enable simultaneous, parallel development tracks, which can dramatically speed development cycles," O'Grady told ADTmag,com, "because developers can be working on the same code at the same time, and then merge their respective changes later."

Atlassian, the Australian collaboration and development tool maker best known for its JIRA bug tracker and its Confluence collaboration tool, introduced Stash last spring. The company acquired Bitbucket, a startup specializing in hosting support for Mercurial projects, in 2010.

"When you move from a technology like Subversion to Git, it can be hard to hit the ground running," said Giancarlo Lionetti, Atlassian's product marketing manager for developer tools. "What SourceTree does is make these DVCSes approachable to every developer by putting the most common commands at their fingertips through a simple user interface that looks and feels the same on Windows and Mac."

SourceTree is free and compatible with other code-hosting services, Lionetti said, including GitHub, Kiln, Microsoft and proprietary DVCS servers. And it connects with Atlassian's own JIRA and Crucible products.

Git originated as technology for the Linux OS, observed Atlassian senior product manager Justen Stepka, so its maturity on Unix-type OSes is strong. The company sees the Windows market as an untapped opportunity, he said.

Atlassian's decision to provide support for the Windows OS is likely to increase its market reach considerably, O'Grady said.

"For all the challenges the operating system is facing in multiple quarters, Windows is still everywhere," he said. "It's an enormous market, and being able to satisfy customers on the platform dramatically widens the addressable market."

The SourceTree for Windows beta is available now for download from the company's Web site.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].