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Re: coaxing scientists to use cvs

From: LEE Sau Dan
Subject: Re: coaxing scientists to use cvs
Date: 09 Jul 2004 23:27:04 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.2

>>>>> "Kaz" == Kaz Kylheku <address@hidden> writes:

    Kaz> On Thu, 8 Jul 2004, Hensley, Jeffrey L ERDC-ITL-MS Contractor
    Kaz> wrote:
    >> I've been working together with a group of about 6
    >> engineers/scientists for over a year. These are all bright
    >> people, but software engineering is not one of their strong
    >> suits.

That's the  problem.  They usually won't care  anything about software
engineering, whatever valid reasons  you're selling them.  They simply
can't understand the concept, and  how useful it is.  I write academic
papers with  LaTeX, and  find CVS invaluable  in keeping track  of the
variants,   esp.    the   "milestone"   revisions   submitted   to   a
journal/conference and the final camera-ready versions.  Being able to
diff between these milestones is  so useful.  Having a full history of
the revisions also means that I can now delete text by really deleting
them, rather than  keeping a shadow there by  only commenting them out
(making  the  source files  much  longer  and  polluted with  obsolete

I've been trying to persuade my supervisor to use some version control
system for  the scientific writings  with me.  The response  is always
that he's  too busy (lazy)  to learn new  things.  Even when  he knows
that this is a useful tool,  he still refuses to learn it.  (Don't ask
me why.  I can't understand  that attitude either.)  Then, I asked him
to cooperate  and ask me  for my latest  version (which I  keep myself
with CVS) before  he starts editing, and send me  his new version when
he's done with  the editing.  He never listened.  He  just go one with
HIS old  version and start writing  and adding things  to it, ignoring
what I've added  in between.  I have to do a  tedious and boring merge
afterwards when he sends me back his version.  Given his uncooperative
attitude w.r.t. version controlling, that's the best I can do.  What's
worse: his LaTeX editor tends to reformat the paragraphs he's editing,
making the diff  result with my CVS sources  bloated with bogus lines,
taking me more  time to do the merge (even  with the handy ediff-merge
function  of Emacs).   I've explained  these problems  to  him.  Guess
what.   He said  his time  is so  valuable that  he'd leave  all these
time-consuming  things  to  me.   Translation:  you  cheap  labour  do
everything in  the tedious way; I'm  not going to do  anything to make
the task easier  for you (even when  it is just a tiny  bit extra work
for me).

How does  he do version  control himself?  He  simply does it  the old
stupid way: cp -r trunk/ some_version/ His home directory is thus full
of stuffs.   He has the  luxury: when disk  space runs out,  the admin
people buy new disks and install  and configure the new disk space for

    >> I managed to convince them to start using CVS to try to help
    >> maintain the scientific package that they are developing.

Good luck.

    Kaz> I say, just leave them alone to do whatever they want. Their
    Kaz> success is in their own hands. Just don't tie your own
    Kaz> success to theirs, that's all.

Yeah!   Don't expect anything  on them.   If they  can do  the version
control properly, it should be treated as a bonus, not an expectation.

Lee Sau Dan                     李守敦                          address@hidden

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