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Re: How well does CVS handle other types of data?

From: Bruce Hill
Subject: Re: How well does CVS handle other types of data?
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2001 11:15:23 -0700

> John Dixon writes:
> > 
> > Does anyone have experience using CVS with CAD/CAM binary data files like 
> > .MOD (Solution3000) or .DWG (Mechanical Desktop)?
> Since such file don't allow for concurrent modifications, I can't
> imagine why you'd want to use the *Concurrent* Versions System to store
> them.
> -Larry Jones
> Some people just don't have inquisitive minds. -- Calvin

I can't speak for John, but we use CVS because most of our files are
plain text source files.  However, we have some files, both
documentation and UML graphical models, which aren't able to be
merged via CVS.   We want to use one version control system, so we're
putting up with CVS's limitations in this area.

To answer your question simply; you can use CVS for binary files.  Just
use -kb when you import or add the binary files.

The downside of this is that even though the file has been marked as
binary and thus no changes can be merged, CVS will allow multiple users
to get writeable copies of the file using "cvs edit".  When the second
user tries to checkin, they'll find that they can't and thus they'll
have to redo their work after getting an updated copy of the file.

There are ways to send email notification when the second user gets
a writeable copy, (see cvs watchers), which can help as long as all
users have good notification of new email.  The solution usually 
touted is to make sure your developers know who's working on which 
files which seems like a cop-out to me.  

There's also a patch for cvs on SourceForge that would make 
"cvs edit" fail if the file is locked, but I haven't seen any 
indication that it will ever show up in the mainline CVS.  That's
a problem for us as we have multiple CVS executables on Solaris,
Linux, Windows cmd line, Windows DLL, WinCVS, and CygWin.  We may
decide to go with our own customized version of CVS at some point
to solve this and to add hooks to avoid the DOS/Unix line ending
conversion.   Does anyone know how to customize the version of CVS
built in to WinCVS?


- Bruce Hill

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