Until now, any dev working with a team on project code has had to make a compromise: opt for the “superuser” power of Git at the command line interface (CLI) level, or go for the less feature-rich but more visually intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) of a Git client. The CLI gives the most complete set of options, but usually at the expense of speed and the steep learning curve that comes with it. Persistently typing out sequences of commands to perform actions is labor-intensive and inefficient, and there is no visual representation of the commands being performed. Although clients offer the reassuring familiarity that comes with the GUI, they have a downside: the UIs are often aesthetically and functionally dated, and when you’re using a process or application all day, every day, that matters.
A small team of devs here at Axosoft, not satisfied with the existing options, wanted to create the Git client that devs like themselves always wanted. The CLI/GUI compromises above gave the team a creative challenge to make an app that was made for devs—with efficiency, elegance, simplicity and reliability at the core.
A 30-Second Backstory of Axosoft GitKraken
Every summer Axosoft does something amazing for its developers. We are given the creative freedom to work on a 30-day project to explore new ideas. These ideas can be anything—and weird and wonderful is encouraged. Even though many of them don’t make it past the drawing board stage, this freedom to explore empowers devs to think creatively, enabling ideas to flourish and potentially turn into fully-fledged long-term projects. In fact, Pure Chat was first conceived from a 30-day project, and last summer, a group of devs got the green light to fully explore and create the new Git client they felt the market needed: GitKraken.
With the 30 days up, the team knew they were on to something that needed to continue. Now, Axosoft has expanded the project’s dev team into a full-time GitKraken team! With a full lineup of devs, GitKraken was rebuilt from scratch, and it’s a beauty to behold:
We’re going to dedicate some future blog posts to the finer details of what GitKraken has to offer, but here are a few highlights that you’ll notice instantly differentiate GitKraken from the rest of the pack.
For once, something exciting about installations
GitKraken is 100% standalone, so once you’ve run the installer, you can open the app and get going. It works directly with your repositories with no dependencies—you don’t even need to have Git installed on your system. GitKraken is built with NodeGit, a Git framework that is primarily developed and maintained by members of the GitKraken development team.
Fig. 1: Axosoft GitKraken dependencies and installation sequence
Mac, Windows and Linux
GitKraken is built on Electron, meaning it runs natively, cross-platform. Mac, Windows, and—yes—Linux users all get precisely the same in-app user experience.
Fig. 2: Axosoft GitKraken on your machine
Your Git client has a nice personality…
As you can see from the screenshots above, GitKraken looks great, thanks to elegant design focused on instinctive interactions. From the outset, GitKraken was built with the understanding that clean, intuitive UIs can yield huge user experience advantages. Unlike other clients, GitKraken is fully responsive, making the best use of your available screen real estate. Are you a dev who likes to use a vertically-oriented screen? GitKraken looks great whichever way you flip it!
Fig. 3: Beauty/Utility – How Axosoft GitKraken stacks up
To see how GitKraken takes functional design to a level of downright luxuriousness, let’s take a look at an example of a typical Git action, executed at the command line. In this example, we have changes we need to stash, and we are pulling from a branch that we do not have checked out.
In GitKraken, you just right-click the branch you want to pull, and pull it:
Clearly not all GUI Git clients are created equal. With other clients, the efficiency advantages one expects from the UI over the CLI can be a false economy. Dialog boxes, selecting options, taking unnecessary steps–these are all things GitKraken’s dev team sought to minimize, wanting instead to produce a Git client that was fast, visually appealing, and totally functional. The result is an experience with fewer user interactions and more fluid workflows.