Version Control is like a Highway not a Tree

I’ve been doing a lot of work with Git lately and have done a lot of thinking about version control systems. I think our analogy of a ‘tree’ to represent the life-cycle of software versions is no longer relevant. Today, trees and branches do not adequately represent what version control systems are supposed to do.

Branching is Easy

All version control systems can branch fairly well. Simply creating a branch does not give you much. It is simply a copy so it is expected that it will work well.

What is the good of branching if you cannot merge.

Merging is Hard

The thing I love the most about Git is that it gets merging right. Other version control systems I’ve used can do merging but it always feels like a pain to do so.

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The tree metaphor does not really fit with the concept of merging. So why do we still use it? Most of the time I see people drawing Git graphs in lanes.

A new metaphor

Source control is more like lanes on a highway. Commits (Cars) are free to move from lane to lane over time. Branching and merging have an equal weight.