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repository surfing

From: Ralph Mack
Subject: repository surfing
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 18:39:09 -0400

> I've got two engineers here who want to be able to just view the files 
> in the repository without checking them out.  These are ex-ClearCase 
> users and, let me quote  "I could do that in ClearCase."  Yes, they are 
> aware they can checkout read-only.  They don't want to have to checkout 
> to view files.

The nature of the quote suggests that they were users of ClearCase but
not involved in its administration nor aware of how it works. What they 
are looking for is not direct access to the repository (vob in ClearCase 
terms) but an equivalent to ClearCase "dynamic views", where a view is 
implemented as a file system. By varying a short text configuration spec, 
the versions of files in the view auto-magically change. CVS's approach 
is similar to ClearCase "snapshot views", or the sandbox mechanism 
supported by virtually every other source control system on the planet.

AFAIK, ClearCase is the only SCM that implements views of versions of
data as a file system. Most other SCMs require you to specify how it 
should determine the version you want and then copies the files to a 
sandbox. MVFS is a neat feature, but ClearCase's implementation requires 
a company to pay a full-time staff to administer and maintain it. (I've 
never been in an organization running ClearCase with less than two such 
people.) This isn't generally necessary for PVCS or SourceSafe or CVS.

Ralph A. Mack

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