Happy Birthday, Git for z/OS!
No one needs another blog post convincing them of Git’s usefulness. Most programmers will agree that the introduction of Git in 2005 set a new standard in version control entirely. Being one of the most widely taught version control systems (VCS) by computer science programs all over the world, it’s more universal than most others on the market— open or otherwise. Alright, so no question about it: Git is a superior SCM. But let me tell you how Git is changing mainframe source code management from the inside-out.
Mainframe source code management has traditionally been very laborious; subject to rigorous, inflexible processes made more complicated by mainframe SCM’s centralized nature. Though more and more languages have been made available to the mainframe (see our open source languages here), modern version control tools had evaded notice. We’re happy to have changed that last year with the release of Git for z/OS.
What exactly makes Git so exceptional on the mainframe, though? I’m glad you asked. Here are some of our favorite reasons:
Git is distributed version control, meaning your project’s complete codebase—including its full history—is mirrored on every developer’s computer. This peer-to-peer approach, as opposed to the client-server approach, synchronizes repositories by exchanging patches between users. Every user has a working copy of the codebase, and the detailed history therein. Developers can be productive without being connected to the network, and can code privately in their own isolated environments. Communication only becomes necessary when sharing changes among their peers. These numerous working copies among machines effectively function as remote backups—which eliminates the risk of a single point of failure.
Of all the benefits of using Git for z/OS, this should be the most persuasive. Being decentralized changes the game. Continuous development allows for quicker publishing of releases, features, and bug fixes. It considerably lowers the risk of development, enabling high performing teams to produce and publish much faster. Customers receive releases sooner, and the gears of innovation never stop turning behind the scenes. Seriously, this should be all the reason you need to use Git.
The Skills Gap
It’s been said a million times before, but Git is the preferred VCS by student and entry-level programmers. You can’t throw a proverbial rock without hitting a 20-something software developer who will tell you as much. Many use Github as a programming portfolio of their best projects. I won’t go so far as to say it’s the best version control system out there—we don’t have enough time for that debate—but it is without a doubt one of the most widely known. New hires are productive much sooner when starting on this familiar tool.
Open Source, Open Innovation
You might be surprised to learn that over 65% of businesses leverage open source software to speed application development, and more than 78% incorporate OSS in their daily operations. There’s a good chance your company is one of the many. We have a lot of respect for open source software and their communities of dedicated contributors. Mass collaboration evidently pays off for everyone involved. Rocket Software, like 65% of companies, contribute to open source projects. Git for z/OS is basically open source2— an open source port of an open source tool. The port supports automatic tagging, and conversion of text files between ISO8859-1 (ASCII) and IBM-1047 (EBCDIC) character encodings.
Git for z/OS is our most popular free tool with over 500 downloads in 2017. You can find it, and our other open source tools, here.