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RE: giving up CVS

From: Greg A. Woods
Subject: RE: giving up CVS
Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2001 17:30:13 -0400 (EDT)

[ On Friday, September 14, 2001 at 14:25:41 (-0500), Thornley, David wrote: ]
> Subject: RE: giving up CVS
> Almost by definition, you lose the main reason for considering CVS.
> This does not necessarily make it a losing proposition.

That alone does not.  However all the other things CVS is, and is not,
together make it a losing proposition for use in tracking changes to
unmergable files.

> Really?
> Does RCS enable merging changes to non-text files?
> Since it doesn't, what does it do better?

I think you missed the point....  RCS is not that much more suitable for
tracking changes to non-text files than CVS is.  It's equally tied to
the text-based diff and diff3 algorithms.

However RCS alone does not force a paradigm on its usage, and though it
provides even more options for its usage than CVS does, this lack of
"direction" makes it (slightly) more suitable for use with unmergable
files than CVS is since a different paradigm can be enforced by the user
on their use of bare RCS for this purpose.

I still think the disadvantages of tracking binary files with bare RCS
far outweigh the advantages.  People who work with primarily unmergable
files generally don't manage changes and change sets in the same way
people who work with source code do.  Often a simple serialised set of
archives is more than sufficient for their needs.

Indeed people who come to the software engineering field to learn about
change management (because presumably we do it better than anyone else,
though that's obviously an easily challenged proposition) should be more
careful to ensure that they don't get misled into applying a solution
that does not in any way meet their real requirements.  Software change
management is very much unlike change management in other disciplines.
One of the biggest differences is the degree of automation possible in
software change management is not usually possible or even desirable in
many other disciplines.  Even in the closely related disciplines of
drafting and engineering changes are far less often made in parallel
(either on branches or simultaneously on the same drawing/object).

> There are a lot of things CVS does better than RCS.  CVS manages
> concurrent development, branches, and works well by directory or
> module rather than by file.  By using non-text files, the concurrent
> part goes out the window, and branches become less useful.  The
> rest of the advantages remain.

I would suggest that the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages.

The evidence can be clearly seen in this forum by examining the nearly
decade's worth of postings by people whining about their poor choice of
using CVS to manage changes to their binary files.

                                                        Greg A. Woods

+1 416 218-0098      VE3TCP      <address@hidden>     <address@hidden>
Planix, Inc. <address@hidden>;   Secrets of the Weird <address@hidden>

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