Git Your PCBs Online

Last time, I’ve shown you how to create a local Git repository around your PCB project. That alone provides you with local backups, helping you never lose the changes you make to your files, and always be able to review the history of your project as it developed.

However, an even more significant part of Git’s usefulness is the ability to upload our creations to one of the various online Git repository hosting services, and keep it up to date at all times with a single shell command. I’d like to show you how to upload your project to GitHub and GitLab, in particular!

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Git Intro For Hardware Hackers

Git is a wonderful tool that can multiply your project’s impact, or make your project easier to manage by an order of magnitude. Some of us hackers don’t yet know how to use command-line Git, but a relatable example of why a certain tool would be useful might be a good start. Today, I’d like to give you a Git crash course – showing you why and how to put a KiCad PCB into a Git repository, later to be shared with the world.

KiCad works wonderfully with Git. The schematic and PCB files of KiCad are human-readable, especially when compared to other PCB file formats. KiCad creates different files for different purposes, each of them with a well-defined role, and you can make sense of every file in your project folder. What’s more, you can even modify KiCad files in a text editor! This is exactly the kind of use case that Git fits like a glove.

Not Just For Software Developers

What’s Git about, then? Fundamentally, Git is a tool that helps you keep track of code changes in a project, and share these changes with each other. Intended for Linux kernel development as its first target, this is what it’s been designed for, but it’s flexibility extends far beyond software projects. We hardware hackers can make use of it in a variety of ways – we can store PCB and other design software files, blog articles, project documentation, personal notes, configuration files and whatever else that even vaguely fits the Git modus operandi. Continue reading “Git Intro For Hardware Hackers”

Arduino And Git: Two Views

You can’t do much development without running into Git, the version control management system. Part of that is because so much code lives on GitHub which uses Git, although you don’t need to know anything about that if all you want to do is download code. [Dr. Torq] has a good primer on using Git with the Arduino IDE, if you need to get your toes wet.

You might think if you develop by yourself you don’t need something like Git. However, using a version control system is a great convenience, especially if you use it correctly. There’s a bug out in the field? What version of the firmware? You can immediately get a copy of the source code at that point in time using Git. A feature is broken? It is very easy to see exactly what changed. So even if you don’t work in a team, there are advantages to having source code under control.

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Keep It Close: A Private Git Server Crash Course

At this point, everyone has already heard that Microsoft is buying GitHub. Acquisitions of this scale take time, but most expect everything to be official by 2019. The general opinion online seems to be one of unease, and rightfully so. Even if we ignore Microsoft’s history of shady practices, there’s always an element of unease when somebody new takes over something you love. Sometimes it ends up being beneficial, the beginning of a new and better era. But sometimes…

Let’s not dwell on what might become of GitHub. While GitHub is the most popular web-based interface for Git, it’s not the only one. For example GitLab, a fully open source competitor to GitHub, is reporting record numbers of new repositories being created after word of the Microsoft buyout was confirmed. But even GitLab, while certainly worth checking out in these uncertain times, might be more than you strictly need.

Let’s be realistic. Most of the software projects hackers work on don’t need even half the features that GitHub/GitLab offer. Whether you’ve simply got a private project you want to maintain revisions of, or you’re working with a small group collaboratively in a hackerspace setting, you don’t need anything that isn’t already provided by the core Git software.

Let’s take a look at how quickly and easily you can setup a private Git server for you and your¬†colleagues without having to worry about Microsoft (or anyone else) having their fingers around your code.

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Hackaday Prize Entry: FabDoc Is Version Control For Project Images

FabDoc is an interesting concept that attempts to tackle a problem many of us didn’t realize we had. There are plenty of version control systems for software, but many projects also have a hardware element or assembly process. Those physical elements need to be documented, but that process does not easily fit the tools that make software development and collaboration easier. [Kevin Cheng] sums FabDoc up as “a system to capture time-lapse pictures as pre-commits.”

With FabDoc a camera automatically records the physical development process, allowing the developer to focus on work and review later. The images from the camera are treated as pre-commits. Upon review, the developer selects relevant key images (ignoring dead ends or false starts) and commits them. It’s a version control and commit system for the physical part of the development process. The goal is to remove the burden of stopping the work process in order to take pictures, automatically record the development process and attach it to a specific project, and allow easy management of which images to commit.

The current system uses a Raspberry Pi Zero with a camera mounted on safety glasses, and some support software. Some thought has certainly gone into making the system as easy to use and manage as possible; after setting up a repository, scanning a QR code takes care of telling the system what to do and where to put it. The goal is to make FabDoc fast and easy to use so that it can simply work unattended.

We saw a visual twist on version control some time ago with a visual diff for PCBs, which was a great idea to represent changes between PCB designs visually, diff-style. It’s always exciting to see someone take a shot at improving processes that are easy to take for granted.

Stupid Git Tricks

My apologies if you speak the Queen’s English since that title probably has a whole different meaning to you than I intended. In fact, I’m talking about Git, the version control system. Last time I talked about how the program came to be and offered you a few tutorials. If you are a dyed-in-the-wool software developer, you probably don’t need to be convinced to use Git. But even if you aren’t, there are a lot of things you can do with Git that don’t fit the usual mold.

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History Of Git

Git is one of those tools that is so simple to use, that you often don’t learn a lot of nuance to it. You wind up cloning a repository from the Internet and that’s about it. If you make changes, maybe you track them and if you are really polite you might create a pull request to give back to the project. But there’s a lot more you can do. For example, did you know that Git can track collaborative Word documents? Or manage¬†your startup files across multiple Linux boxes?

Git belongs to a family of software products that do revision (or version) control. The idea is that you can develop software (for example) and keep track of each revision. Good systems have provisions for allowing multiple people to work on a project at one time. There is also usually some way to split a project into different parts. For example, you might split off to develop a version of the product for a different market or to try an experimental feature without breaking the normal development. In some cases, you’ll eventually bring that split back into the main line.

Although in the next installment, I’ll give you some odd uses for Git you might find useful, this post is mostly the story of how Git came to be. Open source development is known for flame wars and there’s at least a few in this tale. And in true hacker fashion, the hero of the story decides he doesn’t like the tools he’s using so… well, what would you do?

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