When I worked at Sun, we used a DVC system called Forte SCCS/Teamware, which used the old SCCS file format, but was a true distributed source code revision control system.

One nice feature is that it had strong GUI support:

  • You could bringover and putback changes by simply clicking and dragging.

  • It would draw trees/graphs showing how workspaces relate to each other.

  • You also could have a graph view to display a single file's complete history, which might have had several branches and merges. Allowing you to compare any two points.

  • It also had a strong visual merge tool, to let you accept changes from one of two conflicting files.

Naturally, many of the current DVCSs have command line support for these operations, but I'm looking for GUI support in order to use this in a lower-level undergraduate course I'll be teaching.

I'm not saying the Forte Teamware solution was perfect, but it did seem to be ahead of the curve. Unfortunately, it's not a viable option to use for my class.

Question: What support do the current DVCSs have with regards to GUIs? Do any of them work on Windows, and not just Linux? Are they "ready for prime-time" or still works in progress? Are these standalone or built as plug-ins, e.g., for Eclipse?

Note: To help keep this discussion focused I'm only interested in GUI tools. And not a meta-discussion if GUI tools should be used in teaching.

3 Answers 3


The standard distribution of Git for *nix systems includes gitk, which is a simple but featureful GUI for Git. If the Tk UI is not to your liking, Qgit is also fairly nice.

Github has a very good interface for browsing the repository, including a very nice tool for following forks and branches to other users' repositories.

I have never personally needed nor, really, used GUI tools for Git other than that provided by Github, so I can't speak to your needs. But there are several very good tools out there.

I also can't speak to Windows software. I'm only familiar with the Tortoise family in passing.

Edit: I've been using Git-MinGW and TortoiseGit on Windows recently, and I have to say I'm rather impressed by TortoiseGit. It's not the most powerful UI I've seen (by far), but it helps me get the most common tasks done rather easily. I still rely heavily on the command-line, because very little of git-svn is exposed in the context menu.


TortoiseHg for Mercurial and TortoiseGit for Git are quite ready for serious use, in my experience. Don't know about Eclipse, but NetBeans supports Mercurial straight out of the box, and NbGit plugin gives Git support.

  • 1
    I've been using TortoiseHg for a little while now. It doesn't sound as sophisticated as the Forte Teamware product as described in the question, but I find it works fine.
    – Eric King
    Commented Nov 7, 2010 at 19:40
  • 2
    To ge honest, I found TortoiseGit to be a nuisance when compared to the simple "git gui", and it doesn't really "feel" distributed (don't really know how to explain this). Also, the cache process locking files is just a major PITA. Commented Nov 7, 2010 at 20:33
  • +1 for git-gui and gitk. The problem with Tortoise* is it was originally designed for SVN, and in some ways forces you to treat Hg/Git as a non-DVCS.
    – vcsjones
    Commented Nov 8, 2010 at 4:11
  • @vcsjones: Actually, Tortoise was originally designed for CVS. Then it was "ported" to SVN, darcs, git, mercurial. Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 16:57
  • 1
    how tortoise started is largely irrelevant imho, the GUI for tortoisehg is now completely different than the tortiosesvn one
    – jk.
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 11:59

TortoiseHg does both Mercurial & Git repos with the hg-git extension. See http://jamesmckay.net/2010/06/tortoisehg-as-a-github-client-on-windows/ for details & also http://www.jeremyskinner.co.uk/2010/02/18/using-mercurial-with-codeplex-and-github/. Setting up the SSH keys is the hardest part. Once you have it set up it's pretty straightforward. If you already have Git SSH keys then you're more than 1/2 way there.

I had used TortoiseGit in the past and it was generally a pita. If you uninstall TortoiseGit then repair-install your other Tortoise clients.

Atlassian's SourceTree looks interesting - it does both Git & Hg. Runs on Mac and a Windows version is in beta: http://blog.sourcetreeapp.com/2013/02/14/sourcetree-for-windows-beta-signup/

  • I disagree with this (no, really). TortoiseGit is working fine for me these days. I still prefer TortoiseHg's UI but I use them both with no problems, sometimes in the same place, which is a little tricky but works if you're disciplined.
    – CAD bloke
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 11:49
  • 1
    Please edit existing answers as I have done for you rather than posting multiple answers. Have a pleasant day.
    – user28988
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 12:09

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