Re: Version control software - a second questions

Subject: Re: Version control software - a second questions
From: John Gough <gough -at- AUSTIN -dot- ASC -dot- SLB -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 1997 09:15:06 -0600

>My question is this: do software version control packages tend to work
>well for documentation or is this a case of forcing a square peg into a
>round hole?

Software is built, maintained, and distributed differently than
documentation. Full-scale version control for documentation control
wastes time and resources in most cases (*not* all!).

What you really want to do is archive the documentation for each
actual distribution. If you want to use version-control software
to check it in for each release, fine. You could also use
standalone archive media.

The question you have to ask yourself is, "under what circumstances
would I maintain and release a *prior* version of the manual?"
If there are none, you don't need version control. You might need
per-release archiving, which you can do through v-c software if
the powers that be want to store everything for a release together.

The only reason this is worth arguing about
is that mucking with the version-control software can eat lots
of time that you would be better off using to work on documentation.
Putting doc under version-control frequencies of greater than one
per release can also eat a lot of disks. Consider what happens
in VC software:

* change one line of code (80 bytes) in a 100 Kb program (text file).
The storage required is 100,080 bytes + info about where the change is.
That one change increased v-c storage requirements by less than 0.1 percent.

* change one line of a 100K manual file (binary). The
v-c system typically deals with binaries by keeping multiple copies.
The storage required is 200,000 bytes + info about version. One
change increased storage requirements by 100%!

Some exceptions:

* Your doc is stored in text form (e.g. HTML)

* You do build and distribute documents in different ways
for different customers.

If anyone out there is using v-c and happy, could you post why
it makes your life better and what software you are using?

John

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