GitHub — or how to re-centralize a DVCS

What are the most important advantages of git? I think one which should come out pretty early is that it is «distributed», or «decentralized». This simply means that the actual, complete repository moves along with the project. At some point, you could think: where it is hosted shouldn’t matter that much.

Although git doesn’t facilitate working completely without centralized server (because you need to find updates somewhere), it should be pretty clear that the repository content should be independent of the hosting service. In other words, hosting service should serve the repository, not enforce its contents.

I think all the madness started on Google Code project hosting. There, the project wikis were hosted as a subdirectory to svnroot (e.g. in gecko-mediaplayer sources). I’m not sure if I can say «it is wrong». On one hand, it’s bad to keep completely separate codebases in the same repository. On the other, the design of subversion is simply pure madness, and so everything in the repository follows it…

On the other hand, Google got git correctly. When a particular project decides to use git there, it gets three separate repositories (look at pkgcore sources for an example).

GitHub got wikis right as well. But GitHub Pages… They actually misuse branches in a horrible, messy way. Just look how to create project pages manually — they tell you to create an «orphan» branch!

In other words, they tell you to create two repositories in a single repository. Two independent histories. Complete madness! And whether you want it or not, you pull them with every single clone you do. Yes, that could be some kind of advantage but nevertheless it has nothing to do with the source code.

There’s also this old, ignored issue that they encourage you to rename your README file to their invented suffix just to have it rendered correctly. Once again, hosting services enforces the layout of your repository. And I get really angry getting all those in my docdir. This is all against the purpose of markup…

Shortly saying, the sole purpose of markup formats like Markdown, reStructuredText, asciidoc is to provide a complete markup on top of plain text. The text which sould be still completely usable for any regular text viewer. And this means that their naming should also follow the common text file naming rules, which means either uppercase names in *nix or .txt suffix in Windows. No custom .md, and certainly not .asciidoc!

It’s really sad that the very common git hosting sites, instead of encouraging people to use git correctly, force them to hack it around to achieve some minor madness.