Mercurial basics for CVS users

We just made available here the initial code (only a draft right now) for the peer-to-peer project mentioned in this previous post. One of the things we decided to do differently from previous projects is to use an alternative approach for version control. So, we are switching from CVS to Mercurial. My goal in this post is to show what changes in the daily work using it.

The first thing to understand is that Mercurial is a decentralized version control system. So, each developer will have its own local repository. When you commit, you’re not committing to the server, but instead to your local repository. This is cool because this way you can commit very often, and without breaking anyone else’s code. Also, you can easily work offline (airplane, anyone?), and synchronize when you get internet access.

So, when you want to get the most recent version of the project, you pull it from the main repository. And then of course solve eventual conflicts. This allows you to be sure that your code is fine with the server’s, i.e. all the tests passes and so on. After that, you are ready to push your code to the main repository.

So, don’t forget that now, after commiting you code, it is NOT sent to the main repository just yet. It will only get there after you issue a Push from your local repository to the main one.

The exact way to do this will be different depending on the IDE you are using, but the concept is the same. Please consult the official site mentioned earlier and the documentation of your IDE for more detailed information. For NetBeans 6.1, for example, you can find something here.

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