New Default Branch Format in Bzr
One of the new features in the soon to be released bzr 0.8 is the new "knit" storage format.
When comparing the size of the repository data for jhbuild with "knit" and "metadir" formats (metadir is just the old storage format with repository, branch and checkout bookkeeping separated), I see the following:
Size 9.9MB 5.5MB Number of files 1267 307
The reason for the smaller number of files is that information about all revisions in the repository is now stored together rather than in separate files. So the file count comes out at a constant plus 2 times the number of tracked files (a knit index file plus the knit data file). For comparison, the CVS repository I imported this from was 4.4MB, and comprised 143 files.
As well as reducing storage requirements, the new knit repository format is designed to reduce network traffic. With the current weave repository format, the weave file for each file touched by a commit gets rewritten to include the contents of the new revision. In contrast to this, the information about the new revision can simply be appended to the knit data file and the knit index file updated to match. This means publishing a branch to a server via sftp mainly involves append operations, resulting in a nice speed up.
Similarly when pulling new changes from a published branch, bzr only needs to download a knit index to find out which sections of the knit data are missing locally. It can then ask for just the changed sections (by an HTTP range request or a partial read with sftp), rather than downloading the entire contents of the changed weaves.
Overall, this should make bzr 0.8 a lot more usable than 0.7 for various network operations.
Olaf Conradi -
A minor (k)nitpick :)
Metadir is the bzrdir format to hold tree, branch and/or repository formats.
Your comparison was between the weave and knit repository formats. They both reside in a metadir.
James Henstridge -
Olaf: I was comparing a repository created with "bzr init-repo --format=metadir" with one created using "bzr init-repo --format=knit". The other value the help mentions is "weave", but that just prints an error stating "Format shared repository is not compatible with .bzr version Bazaar-NG branch, format 6."
I know that both repository types use the metadir bzr dir layout, but I decided to use the terminology used in the command line UI.
Olaf Conradi -
In latest bzr.dev, the default repository format for metadir changed from weave to knit.
Creating a repository through "bzr init-repo --format=metadir" will create a knit repository. Issuing a "bzr init-repo --format=weave" will create one using weave. The error should actually be a warning, it does create a valid weave repository.
Hey guys, it would be nice to upload a egg of bzr 0.8 to the cheese shop  once released... so it's easy_installable. ;-)
Note that the current development version of bzr has changed the format name of a weave inside a metadir from "metadir" to "metaweave". This new terminology will be included in the 0.8 release.