Skip to main content

Review: Version Control by Example

It isn't surprising that most FoxPro developers think of one primary tool when version/source control is mentioned: Visual SourceSafe. After all, this was the Microsoft tool that was heavily promoted when version control integration was first promoted in VFP. (I recall YAG and Flash introducing their Multi-User Project Manager for FoxPro which was my first introduction to how to let multiple developers work on the same project, absolutely needing some kind of version control)

But if you, like many other VFP developers, were geographically remote, you quickly discovered SourceGear's SourceOffSite, a SourceSafe client that made working remotely fast and easy. SourceGear's founder, Eric Sink, has written on version control for years and SourceGear moved from assisting SourceSafe to Vault, a SQL Server based alternative and additional tools, such as bug-tracking.

VFP's integration of source control isn't perfect - most of it due to its use of the DBF/FPT format for MNX, VCX, SCX and FRX - and the existing SCCTEXT has been improved in the past with alternate SCCTEXT and GenXML.

More recently, however, he's written on open-source version control systems, and no surprise, SourceGear has written its own distributed version control system, Veracity (also open-source). His new book, "Version Control By Example", however, isn't just about Veracity - it's about making Version Control even more accessible than before.

He takes the reader from the history of version control (v1 - SourceSafe , v2 - centralized version control, v3 - distributed version control) and then plunges into perhaps, one of the best examples of learning Source Control in recent memory.

Eric walks us through exactly the same development scenario, using Subversion, Git, Mercurial and Veracity as the version control tool. With Harry and Sally, two developers separated by an ocean and culture, we start with the creation of a software project and go all the way to its version 1.0 implementation, with the challenges of code conflicts, spelling changes, commenting and of course, the inevitable, "I'm going to work alone" mentality.

But the book also describes how different software (web, commercial, etc) implement version control and the internals of how each VCS handle some of the details. While Veracity is discussed, it isn't heavily promoted - this isn't your "here's why my product rocks" book - this is a discussion piece on the strengths and weaknesses of each tool.

Eric's writing style is fun and easy to read. With most developer books, readers pick and choose what chapters you read, and while you can do this with Version Control By Example, I read it cover to cover. You might think going through the same example four times would be boring - but Eric's minor changes make it a breeze (if you're looking for the many different ways Brits can say "happy" or "angry", this is just the sprig in the thicket!) Highlighting the differences in culture helps show the "real" development process.

My favourite chapter is the Best Practices where there are gems that even experienced software developers may not consider:



3) Don't Comment Out Code. (throw it away! - as some developers know, I just hate unnecessary comments comments!)
Version Control By Example is available free online, for purchase, for download, for ePub and more.

If you're looking for a new version control system, read it. If you've never heard of version control before (hello students!!), read it. If you're looking at changing your version control system (some of my clients are still using VSS), read it. If you're looking for a great dev book, read it. I received a copy and after reading it, the best thing I could do, as I do with all the best developer books, is share it.

Version Control by Example

Comments

Eric said…
Thanks, I just picked up a copy! I'll be doing a SubFox/TwoFox shootout session and need to get up to speed as much as I can on all the nuances.

Popular posts from this blog

Programmers vs. Developers vs. Architects

I received an email this morning from Brandon Savage's newsletter. Brandon's a PHP guru (works at Mozilla) but his newsletter and books have some great overall perspectives for developers of all languages. However, this last one (What's the difference between developers and architects?) kind of rubs me the wrong way. Either that, or I've just missed the natural inflation of job descriptions. (maybe, it's like the change in terminology between Garbage man and Waste Engineer or Secretary and Office Administrator)

So maybe it's just me - but I think there's still a big difference between Programmer, Developer and then of course, architect. The key thing here is that every role has a different perspective and every one of those perspectives has value. The original MSF create roles like Product Manager, Program Manager, Developer, Tester, etc - so every concept may pigeon hole people into different roles. But the statements Brandon makes are often distinctions I…

Security in Windows 10

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/bitwise/2015/08/windows_10_privacy_problems_here_s_how_bad_they_are_and_how_to_plug_them.single.html

 discusses some Windows 10 privacy settings and their implications.

"Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary." "In other words, Microsoft won't treat your local data with any more privacy than it treats your data on its servers and may upload your local data to its servers arbitrarily"
I did a quick install on a VM choosing the Express settings. When I fully deploy this on a real workstation, I will likely choose to wade through all of the individual pages, as David recommends.

Of course, losing one's privacy is nothing new - it's happening all over the place (despite Santa Ana's police force's lawsu…

AppleSoft

I'm not TRYING to be "fanboy-flame bait" but what I saw yesterday was a typical "Do it this way, now do it this way and then we'll go back to this way" all over again.... a move similar to what Microsoft does to developers on an ongoing basis.

Remember the first iPhone? Smooth and curved, at least as far as it could be back then. I still pull out my 3G and can see the curves on it.

Then the 4 came out and "boxy" was all the rage. Everything should be "tight with corners"

Now iPhone 6.... smooth and curvy is back. Granted I don't have the actual device yet, but that's the message.

Guess that means the iPhone 8 will be back to boxy.

And honestly, Apple Watch is not worth "one more thing" --- especially when everyone knows it's going to be shown. "One more thing" would be something no one saw coming.  The device itself ? Very interesting and yes, definitely lots of potential but "one more thing" wor…