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Insert FUD, Subversion vs Distributed Software Development

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Nov. 26th, 2007 | 02:23 pm

Before I start this, I am going to begin by saying I know a number of the Subversion developers and they are good people who get it. I look at roadmap for Subversion and further see what is being done with SVK, and can see that Subversion is evolving to be a distributed revision control system. SVK would have pulled it kicking and screaming into that direction if the main developers hadn't decided to go that way, but they are smart and realize the need to evolve.

When I read blogs like Version Control and “the 80%” I see though that they, being the Subversion community, are going have to go through an education process to get their own community on board. Points like:
  • No Windows support.
  • No GUIs
  • Too many commands.
  • Corporations are too centralized
  • No security.

    It just goes to show that FUD is not only the domain of the proprietary software world. Open Source is just as capable of doing it. If you stood over my shoulder and saw how I work with Bitkeeper daily it would become obvious fast that there is no truth to the above points. Giving the author the benefit of a doubt I assume they have never actually used a distributed tool or spent any time with people who do on a daily basis.

    Some of the wording in the blog is just over the top. Statements like "completely blows over the head of the 80%" makes me think the author believes the 80% are a pack of vocational losers. Why even invoke the word vocational? In the US the word often is used as a derogatory for marginally skilled labor (which is udder crap).

    Give me a break, just because someone has a life outside of work it does not mean that they will be a lousy engineer. The author might have well said "if you are not very smart or motivated, you should be using subversion". Which is an insult to those who use Subversion.

    There are plenty of projects and products being run by good engineers that use centrally controlled revision systems. In LAMP we have MySQL and Linux using distributed systems today. My understanding is that Python is moving that way as well (it should, considering several of the distributed systems are written in it). That still leaves a good half of the LAMP stack using subversion or similar tools.

    The authors says in an update to the blog "imploring DVCS evangelists to be aware of these issues, rather than running around thoughtlessly trashing centralized systems", but his article is exactly that, except he picked on distributed revision control systems.

    Evolution brings out the worst in communities. You always end up with elements that feel the need to scream about change. The faster the change, the louder the screaming.

    Keep in mind though that the screaming is the bellwether of change.
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    Comments {1}


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    from: awfief
    date: Nov. 29th, 2007 10:51 pm (UTC)

    Wow. Just....wow.

    I'd like to have this guy come and sit in on some interviews. Basically he says that anyone working on an open source project (especially in their spare time!) is smart -- and also s/open source/Linux/g .

    There are smart Windows programmers. There are dumb Linux hackers.

    You'd think he'd be a little happier that the code he wrote is used as the default, instead of sniggering "I guess we've made it because even THEY use it now!"

    And he switches here:

    Many of these early adopters come off as either incredibly pretentious and self-righteous (like Linus Torvalds!), or are just obnoxious fanboys who love DVCS because it’s new and shiny.

    Um, you just said those 20% "alpha-geeks" were smart, cool, and knew what they were talking about. Suddenly they're all fanboy trolls? And I don't know about Linus Torvalds, but having skillfully stayed off the radar of Stallman (no, you can NOT touch my boobs, I don't care that the FSF wouldn't exist without you, they're still MY boobs you self-rightous.....oh wait, tangent!), I can say that personal politics tends not to interfere with good engineering. Yes, it has a marketing effect....but....argh.

    I do like comment 36 about how open source projects can benefit from DVCS. Also, I could see it be valuable to have one centralized servers relayed through DVCS for a remote company, such as MySQL is. Someone in the Pacific Rim having to check out code from Switzerland is going to get annoyed. With the amount of outsourcing US companies do with India these days.....

    Plus the great thing about DVCS (I've never used one and this is the first I've ever heard of the concept, though I've heard the software names before) is that you can *force* code reviews, because you can stop commits at the gate. VCS's have always been scriptable, and with DVCS you get the ability to have more disparate sets of rules.


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