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Making It Easier to Collaborate on Code


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Comparing Gitless to Git.

A new interface developed by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory addresses many of the core problems of the open source tool Git.

Credit: Santiago Perez De Rosso

A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has developed an interface that addresses many of the core problems of the powerful open source tool Git.

The Git version control system enables multiple programmers to track changes to code, including making "branches" of a file that can be worked on individually.

The team developed the interface, called Gitless, in part by looking at nearly 2,400 Git-related questions from the popular programming site StackOverflow, and then outlining some of its biggest issues and proposed changes to minimize problems. For example, Gitless eliminates "staging," enabling developers to save certain parts of a file, and removes "stashing," making it easier and less confusing for those who have to constantly switch between tasks.

During testing, Gitless users more successfully completed tasks than Git users.

"What's particularly encouraging about this work is that it suggests that the same approach might be used to improve the usability of other software systems, such as Dropbox and Google Inbox," says MIT graduate student Santiago Perez De Rosso. He will present a paper on the research next month at the ACM Systems, Programming, Languages, and Applications: Software for Humanity (SIGPLAN 2016) conference in Amsterdam.

From MIT News
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