Bazaar Explorer Overview
Note: This page will shortly be replaced by our new web site. Please road test it!
Bazaar Explorer is a desktop application providing an easy-to-use interface to the Bazaar version control system. It is designed to be simple enough for casual users of version control, yet powerful enough for experts to be productive. To see BzrExplorer in action, see Bazaar Explorer by Pictures or browse the screenshots.
Unlike many other version control applications, BzrExplorer puts the focus on managing branches and changes, rather than directories and files. (If you prefer the latter, you may find an extension to the File Manager provided as part of the operating system more to your liking, e.g. TortoiseBzr.)
A brief overview of BzrExplorer's major features is given below.
Based on Nokia's Qt technology, BzrExplorer runs on all popular desktops including GNOME, KDE, Windows and Mac OS X. In each environment, it provides a native look-and-feel and adjusts its menu to meet the UI design guidelines for that platform.
BzrExplorer provides most of its functionality by calling out to mini-applications provided by "application suites", namely the QBzr and bzr-gtk plugins. QBzr is required while bzr-gtk is optional. If both are installed, you can choose which application suite to use.
Note: Different application suites provide different amounts of coverage of Bazaar's functionality. If you expect an action to be enabled and it isn't, it's probably because the application suite is yet to provide that feature.
BzrExplorer supports 4 kinds of Bazaar locations:
- bound branches (also called heavyweight checkouts in Bazaar 1.x)
The summary view and actions available depend on the location kind. For example, opening a repository shows the interesting locations nested within it while opening a branch shows the working tree "status" summary.
Note: Strictly speaking, "repositories" are actually called shared repositories and "checkouts" are actually called lightweight checkouts. Those more-precise terms are avoided in the BzrExplorer user interface to Keep It Simple for casual users.
Here's the most commonly used recipe by BzrExplorer users:
- open a branch
- change some files
- Select Refresh on the toolbar (F5), confirming the overall status
- Select Diff on the toolbar (F3), checking the changes
- Select Commit on the toolbar (F4)
- Enter a commit message and select OK
- Select Refresh on the toolbar (F5), confirming there are no outstanding changes
While primarily designed for working on local branches, BzrExplorer lets you open remote locations, e.g. branches on Launchpad. The set of actions available is masked accordingly.
BzrExplorer provides easy access to all of Bazaar's configuration files. Custom dialogs are provided by the various application suites for nice editing of some of these. For others, a (configurable) text editor is launched.
BzrExplorer provides easy access to Bazaar's log file and the Launchpad pages for reporting bugs and asking questions about BzrExplorer. A diagnostic mode can also be enabled in which selecting an action simply shows what Bazaar command would actually be run, together with the options and parameters that would be passed to it.
Locations that you commonly open can be saved as a bookmark. More generally, bookmarks can be added, edited and refreshed. Editing allows:
- removal of unwanted bookmarks
- organisation into folders
- placement of separators.
Repositories are particularly good to bookmark as it's easy to navigate to branches/checkouts within them - simply double-click on the branch/checkout name.
Bazaar commands, local applications and web sites can be defined as tools. Like bookmarks, tools can be added, edited and refreshed.
In addition to your personal bookmarks and tools, you can optionally "wear a hat", enabling additional bookmarks and tools applicable to that role. This is useful for users who:
- have different needs at home vs work
- contribute to multiple open source communities
- contract for multiple clients
- need pre-canned environments while providing training.
You can switch the hat you're wearing or take it off altogether. A registry of hats you may like to try is available at http://bazaar-vcs.org/BzrExplorer/Hats.
Bazaar plug-ins can provide new or improved applets for most menu actions. Via plug-ins, custom, kind-specific panels can also be added to the information displayed for each opened location.
As explained above, BzrExplorer builds on the excellent work done to date by the QBzr and bzr-gtk development teams. I hope BzrExplorer increases the number of users of these plugins and that they rapidly mature to meet the needs of these new users.