Re: Tracking Code Changes

Subject: Re: Tracking Code Changes
From: Sandy Harris <sandy -at- storm -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2001 13:37:39 -0500

R D wrote:
> Dear List-
> We have a problem at my company of rogue programmers
> constantly making code changes without telling anyone.
> Our new manager wants to somehow get a handle on this.
> I'm wondering if anyone has used specific software
> programs that track code changes-

A very widespread tool in the Unix and Open Source communities is CVS:

Each programmer can have his or her own "playpen" copy, but cannot
change the master copy in the CVS repository without having that
recorded. Anyone can see exactly what he or she changed, when, and
(if he/she did it right) the logged reason for the change.

You need some policy and procedure stuff to ensure people do log
their changes properly (not "fixed a bug" but "rewrote function
foo(), adding check for NULL pointer. Fixes bug report #666"),
but nothing fancy.

This works just fine for docs as well, provided they're in some
ASCII-based format: HTML, XML, SGML, perhaps Frame MIFs but I'm
not sure if there'd be complications there.

CVS can be used for docs in binary formats (e.g. Word), but the
overheads become silly because for those formats it must store
the whole doc each time, rather than storing only the changes
as it does for text formats.

You can also do good things for security with CVS, e.g. for a
website with multiple maintainers, CVS gives you a simple way
to avoid giving them all access to the web server. Instead you
give them all access to CVS services and set up the web server
to update itself via read-only CVS access every hour or so.

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Tracking Code Changes: From: R D

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