I’ve been using the github “network” tab quite a lot to have a birds-eye view on repositories. Especially to see the existing forks and how they evolved from the original repository. I use it for the following use-cases:
- If I look on the code of an open-source project, I want to see if there are any forks which have done important modifications on the code-base
- I can see if another fork has more activity than the main/original repository.
- If I look at one of my repositories, I can see if other people forked off and committed on their branches. This way I can proactively give feedback on their work even before a pull/merge-request is sent my way. Looking at many projects, I get the feeling that some people either don’t bother with PRs or don’t really know about the feature. Even though their contributions could benefit the original repository as well. Having an overview on the ongoing work of contributors can be helpful.
I am aware that the view as it is available can become unmanageable for larger projects. But I find it still an extremely valuable view on the “fork-topology”.
I have tried to find this functionality in gitlab but after quite a lot of clicking around, I still have not found it. The closest I can find it the “repository/network” links. This has a similar name, and similar looks but it has one glaring omission: It does not show forks! If I open one of my own projects on gitlab, I cannot see at a glance if there are any forks which have advanced work of that project. I can only see a list of forks, but that does not show whether the fork has in some way diverged.
I have a couple of forks which have never added any commits. I am guessing some people like to use forks for “bookmarking” or “safe-keeping”, but it makes it cumbersome to focus on the forks which actively contribute something.
Given the similarity between gitlab and github, I am guessing that one has taken inspiration from the other, and I also assume that existing features have been investigated and design decisions were taken. What were the design decisions leading to the omission of forks from the network graph? Is there another feature which covers the above mentioned use-cases?