EasyMercurial v1.4

Today’s second post about a software release will be a bit less detailed than the first.

I’ve just coordinated a new release of EasyMercurial, a cross-platform user interface for version control software that was previously updated in February 2013. It looks a bit like this.

Screenshot from 2018-12-20 18-55-36

EasyMercurial was written with a bit of academic funding from the SoundSoftware project, which ran from 2010 to 2014. The idea was to make something as simple as possible to teach and understand, and we believed that the Mercurial version-control system was the simplest and safest to learn so we should base it on that. The concurrent rise of Github, and resulting dominance of Git as the version control software that everyone must learn, took the wind out of its sails. We eventually tacitly accepted that the v1.3 release made in 2013 was “finished”, and abandoned the proposed feature roadmap. (It’s open source, so if someone else wanted to maintain it, they could.)

EasyMercurial has continued to be a nice piece of software to use, and I use it myself on many projects, so when a recent change in the protocol support at the world’s biggest public Mercurial hosting site, Bitbucket, broke the Windows version of EasyMercurial 1.3, I didn’t mind having an excuse to update it. So now we have version 1.4.

This release doesn’t change a great deal. It updates the code to use the Qt5 toolkit and improves support for hi-dpi displays. I’ve dragged the packaging process up-to-date and re-packaged using current Qt, Mercurial (where bundled), and KDiff3 diff-merge code.

Mercurial usage itself has moved on in most quarters since EasyMercurial was conceived. EasyMercurial assumes that you’ll be using named branches for branching development, but these days using bookmarks for lightweight branching (more akin to Git branching) is more popular — EasyMercurial shows bookmarks but can’t do anything useful with them. Other features of modern Mercurial that could have been very helpful in a simple application like this, such as phases, are not supported at all.

Anyway: EasyMercurial v1.4. Free for Windows, Linux, and macOS. Get it here.

New 1.2 release of EasyMercurial

At the SoundSoftware project we’ve just released a new version of EasyMercurial, our user interface for the Mercurial version control system.

This release has one change that I think is quite interesting—we’ve removed one of the five big buttons that used to occupy the main toolbar. It turned out that the meaning of the “Refresh” button wasn’t anywhere near as clear to users as we had foolishly imagined it to be during development. Our article about the release explains in a bit more detail what the problem is and what we did about it.

This is one advantage of having a constantly-shifting population of fairly autonomous users around you, as you do in a university research lab. Although our users don’t always have the time to test much, we do get a fairly broad range of use cases being tested. Working out how to act on the feedback we get is the hard bit!

(One exception, though, is that we have relatively few in-house users running EasyMercurial on Windows. So if you’re a Windows user, your feedback is especially valuable.)