The Git versioning process has long been a hot topic for developers, but a new study says there’s little evidence to back it up.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that only 1 in 10 developers actually used the exact same version of Git on their machines, while more than 1 in 4 used a version that was not the exact version of the Git repository.
The researchers also found that developers who used different versions of Git were more likely to have a variety of different issues.
“This is a bit disappointing because we were expecting to see a lot of people using different versions on their systems, but this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said study author Robert Bailenson, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Pennsylvania.
“It’s not a comprehensive list.”
Bailenson and his colleagues looked at over 4,000 code commits in GitHub, the public repository of open source software.
In total, they analyzed over 20 million commits.
They found that the majority of developers used the latest version of git, and that only 16% of developers were using an older version of code.
That number dropped to 12% for developers using an old version of their code.
Bailensen said that the researchers weren’t expecting to find so many developers who were using older versions of code and that the lack of clear answers might reflect the difficulty of keeping track of different versions.
“The problem of using the exact exact same code is a common issue for all developers, so this might just be a symptom of the general lack of understanding of git,” he said.
“There are a lot more issues that developers are working on right now, so it would be great if people could keep up with what’s happening in the codebase.”
The authors of the study said they believe the majority developers don’t use the exact identical versions of their Git code.
“Git has evolved quite a bit in the last decade, and it’s hard to maintain a consistent approach across releases,” Bailensen explained.
“Even when you know that there are exactly the same versions of the code, it’s not always easy to keep track of the changes that have been made.”
The study also found developers were more inclined to use older versions because they were more comfortable with older versions.
The authors said it’s possible that people were more motivated to adopt newer versions of software because it would reduce the amount of work involved in maintaining them.
“The motivation to upgrade to the latest code version is very real and could also be the reason why older code is being used more often than newer,” Bresson said.
The researchers plan to continue studying Git’s usage to see how well it can be used in the future.