SVN merging documentation branches

Subject: SVN merging documentation branches
From: Karen Felker <akaren -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 16 May 2012 17:12:45 -0700

Our DITA documentation is under SVN control. We use the <ph> element with combinations of at least 15 product tags to organize shared content. Historically, we have maintained all documentation in one documentation trunk, even though the engineers may have many code branches for several different software product releases. When they build the software, they include the documentation trunk.

Recently, the engineers have begun working on two sequential releases of one product at the same time. Some engineers have suggested we branch our documentation to avoid content screw-ups. If they are on schedule, always a big IF, at lease a month should separate the releases.

When we tried something like this about two years ago, the SVN merge did not catch all the changes made inside <ph> element tags. Instead of branching docs, I'd almost prefer writing up doc changes for the later release in Word, and getting them reviewed, then adding them to the DITA files at the last minute.

Does anyone have experience with similar branching and merging of DITA-based docs? If so, have you run into any problems like this?

Karen Felker
akaren -at- earthlink -dot- net

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