Perforce vs Git: Comparing the Differences

Allison Bokone
Allison Bokone
·
Last updated on June 4, 2024

Among the most important decisions a software developer will make is the platform they use for version control management. Perforce and Git are popular tools for managing source code repositories, and each has its own benefits and shortcomings. Let’s look at some of the main differences between Perforce vs Git that you should consider when selecting the version control system for your team.

With Perforce, developers only need to download the files they are working on. Code changes are then checked into a centralized server, providing a single source of truth and tracking change history. While downloading a subset of the repo saves time initially, any change requires uploading to the server, potentially encountering slowdowns due to network traffic. In contrast, Git downloads the full code repository to the developer’s machine, enabling faster local commits, diffs, and merges, and facilitating offline work. However, managing changes across teams becomes more complex with the entire repo stored locally.

Perforce vs Git Repositories: Centralized vs. Distributed

Perforce

With Perforce, developers only download the files they are working on locally. Code changes are checked into a centralized server that contains a single source of truth and tracks change history. Downloading a subset of the repo saves time up front. But any time a change needs to be committed it must be uploaded to the server. This requires a server connection and has the potential of hitting a slowdown due to network traffic.

Git

With Git, the full code repository is downloaded to the developer’s machine. This means a developer downloads the entire repo each time they have to work on the project or sync the latest changes to main repository. Having the full repo on your machine speeds up local commits, diffs, and merges extremely and allows offline work. But the trade-off is the increased complexity of managing and coordinating changes across teams.

Perforce Hosting on Assembla

Deploy Helix Core in the cloud in less than 1 minute.

Performance, Scalability, and Binary Files

Perforce

For teams working on larger codebases or in repos that contain other large digital assets, Perforce Helix Core is a better solution because it can handle large binary files much more efficiently than Git LFS. Additionally, it easily manages thousands of digital assets and supports over 10,000 concurrent commits.

The distributed architecture of Helix Core allows for rapid file access from the cloud while preserving a unified source of truth. It can also rapidly scale in the cloud to meet increasing demands. With Perforce, there has traditionally been concern around latency and what happens if a central server goes down. However, with Assembla’s Perforce Hosting in the Cloud and the Perforce Helix Core Optimized Network, companies can easily scale, replicate, and backup their codebase. This greatly optimizes performance and reduces risk.

Git

Since every developer will need to download the entire repo regularly, Git works well for repositories that are primarily source code, not digital assets. For teams with fewer and smaller files, merging and pulling changes shouldn’t pose any problems. When codebases grow larger or digital assets begin to include more complex graphics, downloading these files every time changes are made can lead to performance issues. In addition, because of the decentralized architecture, every developer has the full change history downloaded to their machine.

In the case of large binary files, downloading the full change history with each pull does not scale. Git LFS, or Large File Storage, attempts to work around this issue by storing binary files in a separate, centralized “LFS store” and using pointers in the Git repo to control the size of the repository. However, Git LFS has several limitations that make it a cumbersome workaround:

  • It does not integrate seamlessly with art and design programs.
  • It has to be installed for every user and configured for every repo.
  • Anyone who needs to use the binary file will still need to download it locally via the command line.

Branching, Collaboration, and Permissions

Perforce

With Perforce, developers checkout files to work on them, so most branching is done at the file hierarchy level. Developers can also lock the files they are working on to prevent others from making changes and creating merge conflicts. The overall branching structure is a hierarchy managed by administrators.

Perforce supports granular permissions at the file, folder, and branch levels, which gives admins greater control over who has access to different parts of the codebase. By limiting individual access to the areas of the repo applicable to their job, teams can increase security and decrease the risk of leaks.

While this type of branching structure and ability to set granular permissions works great for enterprise companies, it might require too much administrative overhead for smaller teams.

Git

Git supports feature and topic-based branching, which allows developers to have multiple local branches where they can work on different topics independently. Developers can leverage this flexible approach to branching to easily maintain a clean branch that only contains production-ready code or to create branches for experimentation and remove them when they are no longer necessary. No admins needed.

Because of its distributed setup and flexible branching, Git easily supports multiple workflow types, which you can learn more about here. Git also has a staging area where you can format and review commits as an intermediate step in the commit process. This allows developers to choose which changes to commit, rather than being forced to commit all files or list out all the files to exclude from the current commit.

Git only supports file locking with Git LFS, so it can be harder to avoid merge conflicts if you have multiple developers working on the same files. Since every developer downloads the entire repo, there is not as robust support for granular permissions as there is in Perforce, though most Git hosting providers have their own features that can help you protect your repos.

Assembla supports branch protection, which allows admins to specify which team members will be able to merge or push code. All other team members will have read-only access and will only be able to submit code via a Merge Request. Additionally, you can create a Mandatory Review Workflow to automatically create Review Branches and Merge Requests and assign the workflow to team members who have merge rights.

Git Hosting on Assembla

Code repositories, Project Management and Code Collaboration under the same roof.

Customization: Extensions and Integrations

Perforce

Perforce supports integrations with dozens of products from partner companies, including major game engines like Unity and  Unreal and industry standard tools for software development like Jira, Microsoft, and AWS. Perforce also has its own suite of tools that integrate with Helix Core: Helix DAM, Helix Plan, and Helix Swarm.

Helix DAM is a digital asset management tool that helps you find, track, and review your digital assets and it integrates with industry standard tools such as Photoshop, Maya, and Blender. Helix Plan is an enterprise Agile planning tool designed for large-scale backlog and portfolio management and it supports a flexible mix of Scrum, Kanban, Waterfall. Helix Swarm is a web-based code review tool that works with Helix Core to enable collaboration and efficient code reviews with the ability to configure custom workflows for your studio.

However, teams that want to host Perforce and its tools in the cloud will need an expert who can handle the migration migrate data and, crucially, maintain and optimize the Perforce server over time. If you find yourself in this situation without an in-house Perforce administrator, Assembla’s managed Perforce hosting solution can handle the heavy lifting, freeing your team to focus on creative work.

Perforce also has the Helix Visual Client (P4V), Helix Plugin for File Explorer (P4EXP), and Helix Sync, which all give artists, designers, and other non-developers easy ways to visualize, access, and update Helix Core version control from their desktops or within tools like Adobe Photoshop CC and Autodesk 3DS. On the developer side, Perforce has the Helix Plugin for Visual Studio (P4VS) which gives developers using Visual Studio a seamless experience with the ability to access version control features without leaving the Visual Studio IDE.

Git

As a popular, free choice for version control, Git also has integrations with many software development tools through its various source code hosting partners. Assembla integrates with Slack, Jira, Github, TestRail, Travis CI, Jenkins, Zapier and more. GitHub has extensions for Unity, Visual Studio, Jira, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and more. GitLab supports integrations with Jira, Jenkins, Discord, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and more. Bitbucket integrates with other Atlassian tools like Jira, Confluence, and Trello, and with Atlassian Open DevOps you can also find integrations for Figma, Jenkins, Slack, Zendesk, and more.

Cloud Hosting Pricing

Perforce Pricing

Apart from the free plan for up to 5 users and 1GB, Perforce requires a license. It is a scalable version control system, made to handle large amounts of data and large file sizes. It tends to necessitate a robust infrastructure and often moves large volumes of data, and therefore, cloud-hosted solutions typically come at a higher cost compared to Git. Go here to learn more about Perforce Pricing plans.

Git Pricing

Unlike Perforce, Git is open source and small teams and individuals can access basic free plans on several cloud hosting platforms. For teams requiring enterprise-grade features and support, more storage and users, hosting providers such as GitHub and Assembla offer tiered pricing models, charging a varying amount per user based on the features and resources required.

Git and Perforce Hosting with Assembla

Assembla’s cloud-based Perforce hosting maximizes the efficiency of Perforce version control management tools and Assembla is the only cloud-based hosting provider that supports Git and Perforce repositories. Teams can use both SCM tools alongside our robust Agile project management tool, which is designed to facilitate collaboration between cross-functional teams. By signing up for a Perforce Cloud trial, teams can quick-deploy Perforce and Git servers with just one click.

Sign up for a two-week free trial today to explore our version control hosting and see the difference our software makes in the quality and security of your development projects.

Try Assembla
Streamline your workflow with our integrated source code and project management platform.
No Credit Card Necessary
Get Source Code Management Tips in Your Inbox
The reCAPTCHA was invalid. try it again.
By filling and submitting this form you understand and agree that the use of Assembla website is subject to the General Website Terms of Use. Additional details regarding Assembla collection and use of your personal information, including information about access, retention, rectification, deletion, security, cross-border transfers and other topics, is available in the Privacy Policy.
Allison Bokone
Allison Bokone
Allison Bokone is an instructor at Miami University in Ohio for the Computer and Information Technology department, specializing in process and DevOps. Prior to teaching, Allison worked at Microsoft for 18 years, first as a Technical Writer, then as a Program Manager and Director at Xbox. In her last role she was a regular contributor to MicrosoftGameDev.com.

Comments are closed

© 2024 Assembla - All Rights Reserved

Select AWS Region

Pick the region closest to your team for faster performance.

Select AWS Region

Pick the region closest to your team for faster performance.