Controlling SmartGit using an eye tracker

While eye trackers are not (yet) common computer peripherals, they have some fascinating potential to change the way we could be interacting with computers. I’ve done some experiments with the Tobii Eye Tracker 4C, a low-priced consumer device, to see whether/how it might improve SmartGit’s usability. The device is not pixel-precise, hence the interaction has to be restricted to larger areas of SmartGit’s user interface. The four screencasts below include the “gaze trace” and give some ideas of how eye tracking based interaction could look like:

Expanding/enlarging focused views, like the Journal

Adding details to focused (groups of) UI elements

Note that at least for my eyes, the precision was not sufficient to determine a single focused row in the tree, but only a bunch of 3-5 rows.

Scrolling the Commits graph by gazing to the top/bottom of the graph

Activating a (hidden) tab

SmartSVN OpenAPI deprecated

For upcoming SmartSVN version 9, we are going to deprecate the OpenAPI. For the next major version (after release 9), the OpenAPI may be removed entirely. The functionality of all bundled plugins (e.g. the JIRA plugin) will be preserved.

Why we ask non-commercial users to run a recent SmartGit version

Non-commercial users sometimes complain about warnings and final deactivation of older SmartGit versions. Now why are we doing this?

First of all, we’d love to see everybody running the latest version of SmartGit, regardless whether commercial or non-commercial user. We are steadily improving SmartGit and only supporting (fixing bugs in) the latest release version. Hence we are confident that the latest version contains the best features and is most stable.

Commercial users get between 1 and 3 years of updates. That means they can use any major new version which we release up to 3 years after the purchase date (including all bug-fix release, even if released later). If they want to use newer versions, they have to purchase update licenses.

Non-commercial users get SmartGit free of charge. The upgrade to a new major version is as easy as a download and will become even more convenient with upcoming versions. Hence, costs are only a few minutes of time vs. gain are new features and improvements in other areas.

Our gain of having non-commercial users running the latest version is a faster spreading of new versions, resulting in better reviews and less problem reports.

SmartSVN: missing/unversioned file pairs on OS X

We are frequently getting bug reports of “normal” files showing up as a missing/unversioned file pairs on OS X. This happens if they contain non-ASCII characters (like German Umlauts) in their names and they have been added from another platform, like Windows or Linux or directly from the Repository Browser.

Known Subversion problem

This is a known problem of Subversion: in short, Subversion stores file names “as is”. When adding a file “schön” on Windows, its name is stored in this “composed” form in the repository. When checking out the file on OS X, the filename is converted to “decomposed” form when writing to the file system, resulting in “scho¨n“. Thus, svn status will see a different file in the working copy than in the repository and hence report the missing/unversioned file pair. Further details can be found at Subversion issue #2464 and in the Subversion Wiki.


Unfortunately, it’s currently not clear whether this problem will be solved for Subversion/when the fix will be present. The only known workaround is to get rid of such special characters in the repository completely:

  • in case there are only a few files, you may use the Repository Browser to Rename the offending files, then update your working copy
  • in case there are many files affected, it will be better to check out a fresh working copy on Windows or Linux, rename all offending files in the working copy and finally commit all these renames at once

Invoking SmartGit’s blame from Visual Studio

One of our users has just shared a solution with us to invoke SmartGit’s Blame directly from within Visual Studio: in Tools|External Tools, SmartGit has to be configured as new tool with appropriate command line parameters:

Title:   Any title you want
Command:   Path to smartgit.exe
Arguments:   --blame $(ItemPath):$(CurLine)

The configuration might finally look like:


With the tool configured as described, you will just invoke Tools|Git Blame when there’s a file open, and SmartGit will blame that file and scroll to the line which has the caret in Visual Studio.

SmartGit/Hg: sparse checkout

From time to time we are asked whether SmartGit supports sparse checkout? The answer is: it does once configured. Let’s assume you have a remote repository with two top-level directories:


To have a sparse clone of only directory dir1, initialize a new local repository:

$ mkdir sparse
$ cd sparse
$ git init

Enable sparse checkouts in .git/config by:

git config core.sparsecheckout true



to .git/info/sparse-checkout, open the repository in SmartGit and use Remote > Add to add your remote repository and finally Fetch and Checkout.

If you already have an existing local repository which you want to make sparse, enable the git config option and configure .git/info/sparse-checkout as above and finally re-read the repository tree using:

git read-tree -m -u HEAD

Now SmartGit will only show dir1.