New native Linux mergetool

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 0 Comments

We're launching BL707 today and it includes one highly awaited feature: the Linux GUI now includes its own native 3-way mergetool (a.k.a. gtkmergetool).

How to set it up

Remember the full instructions to install Plastic on Linux using packages are here, including specific steps for each distro.

The new gtkmergetool comes together with the plasticscm-client-gtk, so installing it will bring the new tool.

In my case, after configuring the repos correctly, I just ran:

$ sudo zipper install plasticscm-client-gtk

And you're done.

Now, if you were already using gtkplastic before, chances are you were using a different mergetool such as KDiff3. In order to change it, just go to "Preferences" and select "default" as new mergetool as follows:

And once selected, the configuration for the text merge tool will read "gtkmergetool" instead of "kdiff3" as the following figure shows:

Some background

As the seasoned Plastic users might remember, we used to have a cross-platform 3-way merge tool. The same binaries with exactly the same look and feel ran on Windows, Linux and Mac. But they were designed on Windows, so they looked somehow alien on Mac and Linux... and the same was true for the entire GUI.

That's why one year ago we decided to create specific GUIs for Mac and Linux. Our goal was to bring the full native user experience on those two platforms. We released the Mac and Linux GUIs months ago (dubbed macplastic and gtkplastic) but some important features were missing, like built-in diff and merge.

We just released the 3-way merge tool for Linux, based on the same GTK foundation than the entire Plastic GUI. And we're working full speed on the Mac version as I write this.

As you can see, the new gtkmergetool follows the same principles as its Windows counterpart: yes, it is native, but the layout and overall simplicity are still there. Our goal is to come up with a powerful tool but still extremely simple, or at least at simple as it can be, considering it is a 3-way mergetool and as such it is always far from trivial.

We want to keep as few buttons as possible, since we try to avoid the cluttered UIs you can find on other 3-way merge tools out there. The key visible options are just related to navigating conflicts and selecting contributors which, indeed, is what you'll be doing 99% of the time.

We hope you find this new tool the perfect companion for Plastic SCM on Linux.

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