RE: Version control software

Subject: RE: Version control software
From: "Broberg, Mats" <mabr -at- flir -dot- se>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 22:09:11 +0100


I'm not ruling out client/server solutions, unless they require a separate computer. But experience tells me that they are complex animals, and difficult to install and re-install. Since the version control software will be used on a local computer that is a factor that I need to weigh in.

But feel free to convince of the opposite... :)

In a perfect world storing tens of thousands of production files on a local computer should not be necessary. But until networks get faster that is the best option at the moment, for the files I use in my applications.

Best regards,
Mats Broberg


From: Joe Malin [mailto:jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com]
Sent: Mon 2005-11-14 21:47
To: Broberg, Mats; TECHWR-L
Subject: RE: Version control software

I am always curious; why are you ruling out a client-server solution? I
use CVS, which is free and has at least GUI interface (WinCVS). It uses
a central repository based on a "client-server" *model*, but that
doesn't imply you need a separate computer for the repository.

I observe that most version control systems use a central repository as
an important *feature*, since it provides superior control and

I always have to remind myself to make one step backwards from my stated
problem. Just guessing, I might re-state your question as

"Can anyone recommend a way to manage multiple versions of my FrameMaker
files? I don't have lots of money to spend. I also don't want to spend 6
months learning how to use it, and I would prefer one that doesn't
require an additional computer to act as the server."

My answer would be:
A really *cheap* way to do this is to make a complete copy of your FM
directory every time you make a new version, and store it in a different
subdirectory. Label each new directory with the book's part number and
revision number. That's the way I used to handle books at Oracle. Of
course, I was also required to submit these versions to *one* source
control system for inclusion in the product distribution, and *another*
source control system that enforced QA and archival standards, but my
main management was on my own computer. I did back it up regularly.

For binary files, a version control system doesn't offer much. All the
ones I know are designed for software source. Some of them can "diff"
the new and old version and then store only the changes. All of them
handle the situation in which two or more people modified the same file.
These features, though, depend on the source being plain text.

Version control systems are also less useful for one person projects or
projects in which only one person is working on a file at a time. That's
much more common in tech writing than in software.

I can help more if you want; I've worked with ClearCase and CVS plus a
host of other similar systems.

Joe Malin
Technical Writer
jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com
The views expressed in this document are those of the sender, and do not
necessarily reflect those of TuVox, Inc.


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