When comparing The Command Line vs SourceTree, the Slant community recommends The Command Line for most people. In the question“What are the best Git clients for macOS?” The Command Line is ranked 1st while SourceTree is ranked 4th. The most important reason people chose The Command Line is:
Using CLI gives access to every single git function available.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro The most powerful way to use git
Using CLI gives access to every single git function available.
Pro Gives a better understanding of how git functions
By using the git from the command line, it's possible to learn how it functions and how to get the desired result.
Pro Fast and straightforward
There's no additional layer of abstraction.
Pro Available in Homebrew
brew install git
Pro Best community support
Since most devs invoke git via CLI there's a higher chance of getting an answer to a CLI based git problem than a GUI-based.
Pro Even a visual representation of various branches and how they're merged is possible
To visualize history:
git log --graph
Pro It's the same across all the platforms
You can customize it and/or integrate it into automated workflows. It has support for plugins, additional subcommands, and event hooks to perform automated tasks such as updating a bug database or kicking off tests.
Additionally, because it is a simple command line program, it is easy to create shell aliases, write scripts that invoke it, or integrate it into a text editor.
Pro Gives you full control over what is happening
Any GUI would just use command-line in the background, so by using command-line you are in control.
Pro Informative branch visualization
In addition to color-coded branches and icons that tell if a file has been added, removed or modified, SourceTree also displays the number of commits that are ahead and behind the remote branch.
Pro Comprehensive layout
SourceTree has three main repository views: file status, history, and search.
File status view shows status of currently selected repo. It's split into two areas - file list and diff-view.
History view tracks changes made to the currently selected repository. It's divided into three sections. The top section has a graph with progression of commits, branches, and merges. The bottom section shows commit details, files changed, and differences committed.
Search view allows looking up commit messages, users, files changes, branches, and commit SHA.
There's also a toolbar at the top that allows switching between the three views, as well as giving access to git commands (such as commit, checkout, reset, stash, add, remove, fetch, pull, push, branch, merge, and tag).
Pro Simple yet powerful
SourceTree allows you to do advanced Git operations while making them straight-forward for those who are still adjusting to Git.
Pro Supports Git, Mercurial, and Subversion
Allows managing Git & Mercurial repos side by side. It even allows Subversion interoperability via git-svn or hgsubversion plugins which set up a bridge between either Git and SVN or Mercurial and SVN respectively.
Pro Built-in Git-flow and Hg-flow support
Git-flow and Hg-flow provide a consistent development process by defining a strict branching model that is great for managing large projects.
SourceTree allows setting up and integrating into repos that follow this model. Clicking the Git-flow / Hg-flow toolbar button will give you access to actions for starting or finishing features, releases or hotfixes depending on the current state of repository.
Pro Quick setup
Once installed, SourceTree will automatically try to look for and set up repos that are worked on. SourceTree will also detect if git-flow is used and what is the current development state as long as default git-flow branch names are used.
The software tracks all relevant repositories in the bookmark's window. Repositories can be added to the list by creating new ones, adding a local folder, supplying a clone URL or integrating with remote services such as Bitbucket or GitHub.
Pro Built-in integration with Stash and Bitbucket
Sourcetree integrates with repositories hosted on Bitbucket, Stash, GitHub, and Kiln.
Pro Allows chunks and lines selection during commit
SourceTree automatically splits the changes to be committed into chunks allowing committing (or discarding) each chunk separately. Furthermore, the user can even select specific lines. This greatly increases the flexibility of the user in that matter.
Pro Supports Git LFS
Pro git terminal
Comes with own built-in git termnal independant from other git installations and updated regulary. It's especialy good for git beginners who would like to use advanced git functions, but are not ready yet.
Con Difficult to overview complex project histories
Con Recalling is more difficult than recognizing
Although there's autocompletion for commands, it still requires recalling at least the beginning of a command while all that's required using a GUI is recognizing the desired outcome.
Con Hard to solve complex conflicts
Con Steeper barrier to entry as compared to a GUI solution
Since you have to learn all the different commands and you don't have the visual help that a GUI app gives you, it has a rather steep learning curve.
Con Easy to use improperly
Newer users (not necessarily new developers) can make mistakes more easily which can be time-consuming or costly to fix.
Con Hardest part of the learning curve is the ambiguity of some terms (us/them)
When merging (e.g. git checkout master && git merge my-branch), us refers to master, them is the branch you're merging in. When rebasing (eg git checkout my-branch && git rebase master), us refers to master, them refers to your current working branch. This seems counter-intuitive at first, making it harder to use the CLI to some, but after a while you kind of understand why the terminology is used in this way, and you get used to it.
Con Is a badly designed API
Git has awesome architecture but a bad CLI. The meanings of many commands overlap and contradict each other depending on the arguments passed. e.g. Just some: When
checkout is used with file path arguments it is a mutative action, changing the working tree but without those arguments it is for passive navigation.
reset is just like the mutative behaviour of
checkout except it does it for all files.
branch requires a flag to create a new branch but
tag doesn't to do the same with a tag.
Con Requires an account to install and use
Need an Atlassian account to install.
Con Can sometimes be slow
Some operations can be slow. If you know what you want (e.g you want to touch a file, add it, commit it, and push it) you can do it much faster on the command line. However you're often not going to know what you want, so the visual diffs (for example) help massively.
Con Always slow
Con Terrible for resolving merge conflicts
It's hard to tell when you are in a conflict state, let alone what to do if it happens.
Con Unstable and terrible UX
The Windows version of SourceTree is riddled with bugs, causing some users to find it unusable.
These include failing to refresh, frequent freezing, and slow performance. The recent redesign (February 2016) has made the UI difficult to navigate.
Con Does not allow offline installation
Upon installation, the splash screen prompts you to login. There used to be a workaround for you to manually deploy this application in an offline environment, but they've patched it as of 22.214.171.124. It now does a dial-home on each start-up. Since it cannot reach the server, it throws an error to the user, and raises alerts to compliance.
Atlassian's final decision was that they are not going to support this feature at all. Quoted from their staff:
"We’ve never officially supported any form of pre-installation on device management capabilities. [...] As you know, last year, we removed the notion licensing and asked our developers to register the product by creating an Atlassian account. That said, SourceTree has always been a tool for the individual (emphasis mine) developer."
Con No dark theme
No dark theme for Windows, however MacOS version does have a dark theme.
Con Chews CPU
Con The UI of version 2.0+ is so terrible
Tab looks good if you have no more than five repos. If you have a lot, you will know my pain. The source tree will not remember the order of the tab you drag. Everytime you restart the app, it will go back to whatever it likes.
Con Browsing folders is troublesome
Choosing files of specific folders for check-in is troublesome.
Con Not even possible to change the password
There are tickets about this issue sitting there for years and marked as medium priority. I experienced this since version 1.8. Up until now, there has been no fix. If your company's policy is going to enforce you to change your password, it means you need to remove all the repos and clone them again everytime you change the password. This is the worst ever experience.
Con Not always recognizes changed files
Seems to not always recognize changed files, which means that they will not be pushed to remote origin either. This means if you switch branches, the files will be overwritten and you lose your progress. Very annoying.
Con Crashes frequently
Stops responding every 5 minutes.
Con Often rebuilds the graph visually noisy
E.g. after a reset command, the graph disappears and reappears after a few moments.
Con Login problems
Frequently unable to log in, despite the correct password.
Con Requires users to be online when starting up
As of 2.3.5, it needs to dial home on every start-up, else it raises alerts to compliance.
Con Blame MS Office's word correction dictionary to be the source of the slowness while it's not
It's so obvious that ever since 2.0, it will try refreshing each of the repo a few minutes. If you have a lot then it will drive you crazy. When you try to expand a branch node, it refreshes. Try again, OOPS, it refreshed again. Sometimes, it will take you five minutes to select the node you want.
Con Varied speeds across different versions
For example, the Windows version is quite slow is comparison to the Mac version.
Con Information density can be a bit much
It's possible to become overwhelmed with the information density presented in SourceTree. This is especially the case in history view, as it includes a lot of data presented in various ways.
Though this is great for getting a comprehensive overview of everything that's happening in one place, it can take some getting used to.
Con No auto stash
Con CRLF on Windows is a nightmare
There is a bug in 'Discard hunk' and 'Discard lines' constantly interrupting the work flow with inserting wrong line endings. Click here for more details.
Con Has trouble with Github's Yubikey integration
When your 2FA is a hardware key, it is difficult to find a way to bring up the ability to use anything but a pre-programmed password function on the Yubikey, which doesn't add much to security all things considered what a hardware key is supposed to do.
Con Can't select install location
You can't select the install location (anymore). This is terrible for enterprise environments. It insists to install into "Users/<Name>/AppData/Local". What? Where? Why not "Recycle Bin" or Windows Temp?