5 min read

Yesterday marked an end of an era for Mercurial users, as Bitbucket announced to no longer support Mercurial repositories after May 2020. Bitbucket, owned by Atlassian, is a web-based version control repository hosting service, for source code and development projects. It has used Mercurial since the beginning in 2008 and then Git since October 2011.

Now almost after ten years of sharing its journey with Mercurial, the Bitbucket team has decided to remove the Mercurial support from the Bitbucket Cloud and its API. The official announcement reads, “Mercurial features and repositories will be officially removed from Bitbucket and its API on June 1, 2020.”

The Bitbucket team also communicated the timeline for the sunsetting of the Mercurial functionality. After February 1, 2020 users will no longer be able to create new Mercurial repositories. And post June 1, 2020 users will not be able to use Mercurial features in Bitbucket or via its API and all Mercurial repositories will be removed. Additionally all current Mercurial functionality in Bitbucket will be available through May 31, 2020.

The team said the decision was not an easy one for them and Mercurial held a special place in their heart. But according to a Stack Overflow Developer Survey, almost 90% of developers use Git, while Mercurial is the least popular version control system with only about 3% developer adoption. Apart from this Mercurial usage on Bitbucket saw a steady decline, and the percentage of new Bitbucket users choosing Mercurial fell to less than 1%. Hence they decided on removing the Mercurial repos.

How can users migrate and export their Mercurial repos

Bitbucket team recommends users to migrate their existing Mercurial repos to Git. They have also extended support for migration, and kept the available options open for discussion in their dedicated Community thread. Users can discuss about conversion tools, migration, tips, and also offer troubleshooting help.

If users prefer to continue using the Mercurial system, there are a number of free and paid Mercurial hosting services for them.

The Bitbucket team has also created a Git tutorial that covers everything from the basics of creating pull requests to rebasing and Git hooks.

Community shows anger and sadness over decision to discontinue Mercurial support

There is an outrage among the Mercurial users as they are extremely unhappy and sad with this decision by Bitbucket. They have expressed anger not only on one platform but on multiple forums and community discussions. Users feel that Bitbucket’s decision to stop offering Mercurial support is bad, but the decision to also delete the repos is evil.

On Hacker News, users speculated that this decision was influenced by potential to market rather than based on technically superior architecture and ease of use. They feel GitHub has successfully marketed Git and that’s how both have become synonymous to the developer community.

One of them comments, “It’s very sad to see bitbucket dropping mercurial support. Now only Facebook and volunteers are keeping mercurial alive. Sometimes technically better architecture and user interface lose to a non user friendly hard solutions due to inertia of mass adoption.

So a lesson in Software development is similar to betamax and VHS, so marketing is still a winner over technically superior architecture and ease of use. GitHub successfully marketed git, so git and GitHub are synonymous for most developers. Now majority of open source projects are reliant on a single proprietary solution Github by Microsoft, for managing code and project. Can understand the difficulty of bitbucket, when Python language itself moved out of mercurial due to the same inertia.

Hopefully gitlab can come out with mercurial support to migrate projects using it from bitbucket.”

Another user comments that Mercurial support was the only reason for him to use Bitbucket when GitHub is miles ahead of Bitbucket. Now when it stops supporting Mercurial too, Bitbucket will end soon.

The comment reads, “Mercurial support was the one reason for me to still use Bitbucket: there is no other Bitbucket feature I can think of that Github doesn’t already have, while Github’s community is miles ahead since everyone and their dog is already there.

More importantly, Bitbucket leaves the migration to you (if I read the article correctly). Once I download my repo and convert it to git, why would I stay with the company that just made me go through an annoying (and often painful) process, when I can migrate to Github with the exact same command? And why isn’t there a “migrate this repo to git” button right there?

I want to believe that Bitbucket has smart people and that this choice is a good one. But I’m with you there – to me, this definitely looks like Bitbucket will die.”

On Reddit, programming folks see this as a big change from Bitbucket as they are the major mercurial hosting provider. And they feel Bitbucket announced this at a pretty short notice and they require more time for migration.

Apart from the developer community forums, on Atlassian community blog as well users have expressed displeasure.

A team of scientists commented, “Let’s get this straight : Bitbucket (offering hosting support for Mercurial projects) was acquired by Atlassian in September 2010. Nine years later Atlassian decides to drop Mercurial support and delete all Mercurial repositories.

Atlassian, I hate you 🙂

The image you have for me is that of a harmful predator.

We are a team of scientists working in a university. We don’t have computer scientists, we managed to use a version control simple as Mercurial, and it was a hard work to make all scientists in our team to use a version control system (even as simple as Mercurial).

We don’t have the time nor the energy to switch to another version control system. But we will, forced and obliged. I really don’t want to check out Github or something else to migrate our projects there, but we will, forced and obliged.”

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Being a Senior Content Marketing Editor at Packt Publishing, I handle vast array of content in the tech space ranging from Data science, Web development, Programming, Cloud & Networking, IoT, Security and Game development. With prior experience and understanding of Marketing I aspire to grow leaps and bounds in the Content & Digital Marketing field. On the personal front I am an ambivert and love to read inspiring articles and books on life and in general.