Hub Python Library documentation

Git vs HTTP paradigm

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Git vs HTTP paradigm

The huggingface_hub library is a library for interacting with the Hugging Face Hub, which is a collections of git-based repositories (models, datasets or Spaces). There are two main ways to access the Hub using huggingface_hub.

The first approach, the so-called “git-based” approach, is led by the Repository class. This method uses a wrapper around the git command with additional functions specifically designed to interact with the Hub. The second option, called the “HTTP-based” approach, involves making HTTP requests using the HfApi client. Let’s examine the pros and cons of each approach.

Repository: the historical git-based approach

At first, huggingface_hub was mostly built around the Repository class. It provides Python wrappers for common git commands such as "git add", "git commit", "git push", "git tag", "git checkout", etc.

The library also helps with setting credentials and tracking large files, which are often used in machine learning repositories. Additionally, the library allows you to execute its methods in the background, making it useful for uploading data during training.

The main advantage of using a Repository is that it allows you to maintain a local copy of the entire repository on your machine. This can also be a disadvantage as it requires you to constantly update and maintain this local copy. This is similar to traditional software development where each developer maintains their own local copy and pushes changes when working on a feature. However, in the context of machine learning, this may not always be necessary as users may only need to download weights for inference or convert weights from one format to another without the need to clone the entire repository.

HfApi: a flexible and convenient HTTP client

The HfApi class was developed to provide an alternative to local git repositories, which can be cumbersome to maintain, especially when dealing with large models or datasets. The HfApi class offers the same functionality as git-based approaches, such as downloading and pushing files and creating branches and tags, but without the need for a local folder that needs to be kept in sync.

In addition to the functionalities already provided by git, the HfApi class offers additional features, such as the ability to manage repos, download files using caching for efficient reuse, search the Hub for repos and metadata, access community features such as discussions, PRs, and comments, and configure Spaces hardware and secrets.

What should I use ? And when ?

Overall, the HTTP-based approach is the recommended way to use huggingface_hub in most cases. However, there are a few situations where maintaining a local git clone (using Repository) may be more beneficial:

  • If you are training a model on your machine, it may be more efficient to use a traditional git-based workflow, pushing regular updates. Repository is optimized for this type of situation with its ability to work in the background.
  • If you need to manually edit large files, git is the best option as it only sends the diff to the server. With the HfAPI client, the entire file is uploaded with each edit. Do keep in mind that most large files are binary so do not benefit from git diffs anyway.

Not all git commands are available through HfApi. Some may never be implemented, but we are always trying to improve and close the gap. If you don’t see your use case covered, please open an issue on Github! We welcome feedback to help build the 🤗 ecosystem with and for our users.