Version Control Systems Popularity in 2016


There are many version control systems (VCS) in the world. Some are centralized (for instance, Subversion), where software developers use a single shared repository. Others are decentralized (for instance, Mercurial and Git), where a full copy of a repository is stored on each developer’s machine.

Centralized or decentralized, all version control systems were developed to help software teams work on tasks together in more effective ways. With this research, we aim to shed the light on how major version control systems stack against each other in 2016.


Your VCS of Choice

Let’s focus on four established version control systems: Git, Mercurial, Subversion (SVN), and Perforce.
Given a choice, which one would you use for a new project in 2016?

Vote and tweet the poll above :) Let’s see which version control systems people are interested in 2016.

Last year’s Stack Overflow Developer Survey provided a rating of VCSs by frequency of use. We picked 5 of them for our investigation.

Click to show the text version.

Stack Overflow

The more popular a technology is, the more frequently the questions about it may appear on Stack Overflow. Every 8 seconds or so, professional or enthusiast developers ask a question on Stack Overflow. Those questions are conveniently tagged according to the technology they relate. If we took a retrospective look at the questions about version control systems for the last 8 years, we’ll notice that Git has remained the most topical version control system of Stack Overflow for a long time:

Indeed, Git has the greatest number of questions in 2016 on Stack Overflow as well. More than 20,000. were devoted to Git which is around 87% of all the questions asked about the 5 version control systems in place.

Another VCS which people frequently ask about is Subversion. It has 2,214 questions (9%) among the VCSs in study. The rest of the questions about Mercurial, Perforce, and CVS make 1,004 (4% of the total). Since 2010, developers have started to have more discussions about Git than about Subversion or any other VCS system we researched. Mercurial, CVS, and Perforce seem to always take a stand on the sidelines.

This is also reflected by the overall distribution of the VCS-related questions:

Git has the greatest total number of discussions; more than 70,000 questions were asked. It is followed by SVN, having more than 20,000 questions. Mercurial, CVS, and Perforce wrap up the list having not more than 10,000 of queries altogether.

The data from Stack Overflow confirms once more; Git is the most popular version control system, followed by SVN. Perforce, CVS, and Mercurial keep their niches.

VCS Adoption by Eclipse Community

To verify the popularity trends among the version control systems, we researched the data in Google Trends and Stack Overflow. Let’s now turn to another source: Eclipse Community Survey.

For five years (2009-2014), Eclipse Community tried to reveal the usage of various version control systems among its developers. In their annual community surveys, they asked the respondents about the primary source code management system used the most in their projects.

From these surveys, the upward trend of Git and the downward trend of Subversion (SVN) can be observed very clearly. In 2014 where Git finally surpassed SVN and became the VCS of choice among developers of Eclipse Community.

Final Thoughts on VCS Adoption

Google Trend Report
Stack Overflow Trend Report
Eclipse Trend Report

It is worth mentioning that Git was the system of highest interest in 2010-2012, yet its wide adoption by developers happened a few years later. Git became the most-used source code management system by Eclipse Community respondents in 2014. Google Trends and Stack Overflow data reflect the interest dynamics for a technology. According to the data, Git overtook Subversion (SVN) in 2010 (Stack Overflow) or 2012 (Google Trends). While the interest may have peaked during these years, the actual shift in adoption of the technology between Git and SVN (when people started widely using it) has happened only in 2014 (Eclipse Community Survey).

That may be explained by the fact that there is always a lag between the availability of a technology or system and its adoption.

Conclusions

  1. Git is the most popular version control system in 2016. If you’re a developer, that should not have caught you by surprise.
  2. The second place is shared by Subversion (SVN) and Mercurial. SVN has been on decline for the last years. There’s no question that companies are choosing to migrate their SVN repositories to more modern version control systems. However, the process should be smooth, with no forced migration.
  3. Perforce and Concurrent Version Systems (CVS) have the smallest shares in this survey.

About RhodeCode

RhodeCode is an enterprise source code management platform. Whether you use Git, Mercurial or Subversion, you will have a unified repository management within the organization. No forced migration from one VCS to another, but common authentication, unified code review tools, APIs, integrations, and permission controls, simultaneous across all your repositories.

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