13 July, 2008
I received a lot of feedback after my original comparison of two new version control clients for Mac OS X. Please read the original first.
I've been using Versions since the first comparison, and so far I haven't been let down. For example, my appreciation of the way the simple "Changed" filter in the working copy has grown. Let's say I've made some changes to a website including add a page and editing another.
Cornerstone saves me a click by adding with the commit. In fact, I could have skipped the navigation in Cornerstone altogether and just clicked commit, but it asks about adding the files without listing them. I feel better seeing my changes first, and that's something Versions does with a little less hassle. Overall it seems like Versions takes less effort in this example.
I wondered if Versions could add "Mac OS X's Quick Look with space bar right from the browser. Is this even possible? That would rule." Mac developer Joseph Pecoraro showed me the answer is yes. Joseph pointed out this exact functionality has been showing up in various FTP clients. Please do this Versions dev team, it would really help mitigate the advantage of the content viewer in Cornerstone. Even Cornerstone could benefit from this since there may be a file that my Quick Look plugins handle better than your built-in viewer.
I ended my comparison with some things I was hoping to see added to Versions. I've realized that if I was building the ultimate Mac Subversion client, Cornerstone might need less to get there. One of the people I discussed this with was the developer of Cornerstone, Simon Wilson. I followed Simon's advice and unchecked "Show Repository Status" for each working copy. That all but eliminated the delay I had complained about when browsing a working copy. Here are the remaining improvements I would like to see in Cornerstone:
The first 3 are all things Versions does. Versions also just has more minor UI details that help me, like the default "Changed" view, while Cornerstone has some minor annoyances. I'm going to keep using Versions, but I'll be following Cornerstone development closely. I have at least 2 graphic projects where I can imagine Cornerstone being better because of its history and content viewer. We'll see what happens when I have to work on one of them soon.
I've looked at the ZigVersion movie and screenshots, but haven't installed it. The management of working copies and repositories in some sort of bookmark library is very important to me. In ZigVersion that's almost non-existent, just a "Recent Servers" dialog. That alone takes it out of the competition.
ZigVersion doesn't appear to have anything that C and V don't. It also seems to be missing a lot that they do have. For one, it looks like ZigVersion doesn't have anything close to the content viewer and history UI of Cornerstone. Also, it appears ZigVersion just has a single file browser view that is used by both the repository and single working copy simultaneously.
On a minor note, it's hard to get excited about ZigVersion because it has an old-style Mac UI. It looks like apps did back in the early days of OS X. I definitely am into superficial UI fashion, but there are also solid usability reasons why we see modern apps of this nature moving towards the "iTunes style" and other styles Apple is pioneering.
$99, free for non-commercial. That seems high, especially since the far better Cornerstone is $59.
From what I can see from the website it looks like it is fairly robust and has evolved over 3 versions. That's positive, but then I saw it's a cross-platform app based on Java. Those apps never feel right to me compared to native apps. One of the big appeals of Cornerstone and Versions is that they're trying to fit well with the OS and use the modern trends of Apple's apps. That said, I thought it was worth a trial download.
And that's how I confirmed the SmartSVN UI is as bad as I feared it would be. The UI is cluttered and confusing. The file browsing dialogs, terminology, and widgets are not Mac. Versions and Cornerstone are intuitive and clear while SmartSVN is full of wordy dialogs and proprietary terminology. Time to add a working copy... I'll add a "project" by choosing a "directory" with a multi-page wizard and a type of folder select UI I've never seen before. There was no Keychain access so I re-entered my credentials. The update command needs a dialog? The commit needs a multi-page wizard? I dug deeper and the UI just got worse. Worse, despite all the functionality, repository and working copy management isn't that much better than ZigVersion.
SmartSVN Pro is $79. There is a free version, but it's limited.
©2008 Jade Ohlhauser