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Re: using files with .xls and .doc in CVS

From: Eric Siegerman
Subject: Re: using files with .xls and .doc in CVS
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 16:35:31 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.2.5i

On Thu, Feb 14, 2002 at 10:08:48AM -0800, Rob Helmer wrote:
> On Tue, Feb 12, 2002 at 09:05:29PM -0600, Pierre Asselin wrote:
> > Rob Helmer <address@hidden> writes:
> > 
> > >Why do so many on the list poo-poo using binaries in CVS? 

To summarize, there are four issues (at least; if there are more
that I've forgotten, I'm sure someone will pipe up).  These are
listed in *my opinion of* decreasing importance:
  1) CVS's handling of binaries is a bit fragile, in that it's
     fairly easy to accidentally lose the "-kb" setting.  If that
     happens, subsequent commits will put garbage revisions into
     the repo (subsequent updates of older revisions, which were
     committed correctly, will yield garbage working files, but
     that's recoverable; the garbage commits aren't).

  2) CVS can't automatically merge changes.  This matters more or
     less depending on (a) how frequently the files change (hence
     the gif vs. spreadsheet discussion), and (b) how hard it is
     to merge changes manually, or through semiautomatic tools
     external to CVS.

  3) As a corollary of (4), CVS operations probably slow down,
     since they have to push more data (changes to a ,v file tend
     to require copying the whole thing).

  4) As you noted, deltas for binary files tend to grow more
     quickly than those for text files, since the former don't
     "diff" as well; thus, the ,v files get bigger, faster.
     Personally, I don't really care; disk is cheap.  But others
     have different circumstances.

Some say flat out, "don't store binaries in CVS; it simply can't
handle them".  Others say, "it works fine for me; what's your
problem?"  I tend to be more agnostic.  Yes, CVS has problems
with binary files -- one serious, another which can be depending
on circumstances.  Sometimes those problems outweigh the
benefits; sometimes not.  Depends on the situation (including
such "irrelevent" concerns as whether you can afford the
competition :-)

I hope this gives you the info you need to make an informed


|  | /\
|-_|/  >   Eric Siegerman, Toronto, Ont.        address@hidden
|  |  /
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