Version Out-Of-Control Systems

I’ve heard that (sensibly enough) many big rich companies highly dependent on Microsoft Word use document management systems not wholly unlike version control systems to track the development of their documents over time. Law firms are a good example of places where this sort of software lives. However, many of these systems merely provide and track spaces that store different versions of documents and then associate these versions over time and provide an interface to help Word compare them.

On many of these systems, you can check out an old version of the document and, if you’re not careful, actually change or overwrite the old version basically rewriting or destroying history!

This really sounds more like a version out-of-control system to me.

Imagine how jealous these folks would be if they knew what they were missing. Of course, it’s worth remembering that there are many ways that one can be out of control and there’s hardly consensus on which are most enjoyable or most useful.

2 Replies to “Version Out-Of-Control Systems”

  1. At the W3C we used CVS for all of our document management. Initially, it was a bit of a shock but become indispensable. Now, at NYU, I’m using SVN to manage some documents, including doc files — its what people use — since it has support for binary files. (That was the problem with CVS at the W3C, it would often screw up png/jpeg.)

  2. I’ve heard that SVN goes insane with diskspace when you’re storing large numbers of binary files. It’s, quite simply, not optimised for it.

    It’s less of a problem when we’re talking about JPG/PNG and docs in a text format like XML or LaTeX. Things get ugly when we’re talking about loads of binary Word or Openoffice documents.

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