Mar10

Is Git the New SharePoint Solutions Contender?

SharePoint solutions, like the vast majority of .Net based technologies, is largely developed in Microsoft’s Visual Studio which is fully integrated with Microsoft’s multifaceted Team Foundation Services (TFS). TFS is an exceptional version control tool and has great features such as project management tools, work item tracking, and team project portals. While TFS has its uses, Git is increasingly becoming one of the most popular version control tools with our SharePoint consultants and has a lot of traction with the IT community.sharepoint-2013-logo-png-i01

Why Git?

Sometimes smaller IT shops work with multiple technologies and can’t maintain multiple version control tools.  Others may enjoy the consistency of utilizing one product company-wide, or simply prefer Git over Visual Studio. It has become popular enough that Microsoft has added Git support into Visual Studio 2013 – here’s a full guide on MSDN.

This is great if you would like to use Git to manage your SharePoint solutions or anything else you’re coding in Visual Studio 2012. However, earlier versions of Visual Studio have no support and rely on 3rd party plug-ins. Because of the large number of organizations that are developing for SharePoint 2010, many of them are still using Visual Studio 2010, so it’s important to maintain these plug-ins as more and more organizations choose to use Git over TFS.

Visual Studio Tools for Git

Visual Studio Tools for Git is a Microsoft extension for Visual Studio 2010 that provides Git integration. Users have complained about a lack of important features such as annotating, merging only some changes, tagging, and shelving, but because Visual Studio 2013 supports Git natively and does not need this extension, it is likely that this extension will only work with Visual Studio 2012. It’s also probable that those desired features won’t be added.

Git Extensions

Git Extensions is a fully-functional graphical user interface for Git that offers ease of use and also integrates with Windows Explorer.  It contains a plug-in for Visual Studio versions 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2012. Git Extensions is several years old, is open-source, and has an active community supporting it.

Git Source Control Provider

Git Source Control Provider has been in development since 2010 and is open source. Git Source Control Provider is an extension for Visual Studio that provides Git support. Versions applicable to Visual Studio 2010 and 2012 can be installed using Visual Studio’s extension manager by searching the on-line gallery for the version applicable to Visual Studio 2008. The installer needs to be downloaded from codeplex.

Last Thoughts

With a variety of plug-ins supporting versions back to Visual Studio 2008 and native support in Visual Studio 2013, it has never been easier to use Git to manage SharePoint or other Visual Studio projects. If you’re deciding whether to go with Git or use the more traditional TFS, you can no longer hold the complexity of integration against Git. Microsoft seems to have fully embraced it, so if it fits your needs, there’s no reason you shouldn’t too.

Are you using Git? Why or why not? Comment below!

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