7 reasons why hardware teams are adopting Git

A drastic increase in “Git” google searches, compared to a steady decline in “svn”.

Git was created as a result of controversy. Before its launch in 2005, the Linux kernel’s continued development was revoked of its free, open-source status. A proprietary DVCS called Bitkeeper set out to control the market. By being too little too late, the end result was the rapid growth and the adopting of Git in software that continues today.

In hardware design and manufacturing, teams are also seeing big results in implementing Git into their workflow. Increasingly, engineers leverage Git to manage their designs in the development of hardware, and for the way their team communicates from initial design to end manufacturing. From a high level, here are some reasons why teams are adopting Git that we have heard from industries including autonomous vehicles and consumer electronics.

1. Getting in line with firmware and software counterparts

Git helps engineers better understand what is going on among all of the teams by creating a more collaborative environment within the organization. All stakeholders will be aligned in their scheduling. This is helpful for companies moving to a 2-week sprint, for example. This puts teams on the same cadence, making collaboration more readily possible. Git also creates a shared vocabulary among these teams, which is crucial in preventing any miscommunications. “You can be a lot more clear-minded and can be focused on that one small change you’re doing,” an engineer working on hardware and software told us.

2. Helping teams iterate faster

Having faster iterations gives your teammates the full power of a modular, feature-driven workflow. This feature set helps the team keep track of file changes more easily, allowing for the creation of an itemized list of the changes. Peer reviews can now contain issues, merge requests, releases, and milestones. Schematic and footprint libraries are easily organized, and the files within them are synchronized across multiple locations or devices.

3. Integrating and customizing

Through APIs, Git seamlessly connects otherwise disparate project management tools, repositories, and review documentation to allow for more granularity in tracking changes. Access your design data in common SW languages and build any extensions or automated tests.

APIs put your designs and data in a computer-friendly format, allowing you to do more with those designs, such as automating tasks or jobs. Catching errors is a key purpose of automation; if a board comprised of 10,000 parts has a single resistor removed, for example, the human eye may not be enough to catch it.

4. Becoming part of a massive and growing community

Unlike a team foundation server (TFS) or other legacy solutions, Git has an extensive ecosystem of publications, forums, associations, and members collaborating and troubleshooting, using Git in their day-to-day workflows. Git also provides a wealth of resources free of cost – including tutorials, FAQs, user guides, webinars, and live demonstrations.

For beginners, we recommend checking out GitHub’s community, where users post, answer questions and share current projects to get feedback or help troubleshoot. Wired’s GitHub news section is worth bookmarking to keep up with all the latest in Git.

5. Decreasing wasteful steps in the workflow

When your team is at an in-person meeting, chances are that everyone will review schematics on a screen and discuss them. Because most of the feedback is being made verbally, there’s no associated documentation besides everyone’s notes or another spreadsheet. Git provides a better workflow to manage this feedback and standardizes it, so people don’t have to rely solely on memory or dozens of spreadsheets.

6. Adopting ease and scalability

Getting started takes minutes, and you’ll gain utility early on. Using Git as you learn is possible instead of being faced with a large learning curve. Git can help review your designs even if you’re the only one using it in your organization. Git is as simplistic or complex as the user wishes it to be. It can also grow in complexity as your team does too.

7. Following the future trends of Git

The popularity and adopting of Git has already exploded in software developer communities, and it is widely used across virtually all industries. Git will also be the future of hardware development as legacy and centralized control systems, such as Subversion, or SVN, continue to decline.

To learn how engineers use Git, download our free Git for Hardware guide.

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