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Visual Studio Gets Git

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Microsoft's Visual Studio has long supported 3rd party extensions and tools that provide access to external source control systems. This past Wednesday Microsoft announced native support in Visual Studio for the Git distributed version control system (DVCS).

Git has long been familiar in the open source world since it was created by Linus Torvalds to support the development of the Linux kernel. Since its release in 2005 it has grown in popularity and can be found supporting countless private and public projects. Whereas Team Foundation Server (TFS) uses a centralized approach to source code management, Git features a distributed model that does not rely on a central server.

According to Microsoft's Brian Harry, Git was chosen over competing DVCS like Mercurial for the following reasons:

“...It didn’t take long to realize that Git was quickly taking over the DVCS space and, in fact, is virtually synonymous with DVCS. We thought hard about building something. Git hasn’t been as friendly for Windows developers as on other platforms. [But] by building on Git, we can take all the time we might spend just “catching up” and spend that effort on something where we can add more distinctive value.”

Harry notes that VS' support for Git is not limited to interoperability solely with the Git support on TFS. Git on VS can work with standard Git repositories (“local, enterprise, Codeplex, GitHub, BitBucket”, etc) and TFS supports most standard Git clients including Xcode, Eclipse, and command line tools.

Through the preview release, users of VS2012.2 can explore this new support today. Team Foundation Service now supports Git repos, while Team Foundation Server will receive support in its next major release. Harry notes that Microsoft plans to release updates to the VS plugin approximately every 3 weeks until the Git extension can be considered release quality and lift the preview designation.

Users interested in alternatives to Microsoft's offering should consider the Git Source Control Provider created by yysun. This provides a path for users of VS2010/VS2008 to obtain support for Git with their installations as Microsoft has stated it has no plans to backport its Git client to those platforms.

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