John Bell and I have pointed out that version control — systems widely used in software development for logging the incremental versions of an application as its being developed — would have benefits for all creative production if adopted by other disciplines:
Part archive, part message board, and part management tool, sites like SourceForge.net meld project development with open access and documentation. Version control software like git and subversion facilitates asynchronous collaborations between contributors by standardizing how their work integrates. If the creative community documents their work in as structured a manner as coders have, and with the same eye toward future integration with the work of others, it will be a boon to those trying to preserve and build upon the cultural artifacts created today.
But as this article by The Daily WTF founder Alex Papadimoulis points out, the are many types of version control systems representing different philosophies. For there to be a boon, picking the right one for each discipline (or knowing which one not to use) is critical. For example, systems specific to code creation might not be the best for storing essays.
But source code – though just a bunch of text files – is a special kind of data: it represents a codebase, or the living blueprint for an application that’s maintained by a team of developers. It’s this key distinction that makes source control a special case of revision control, and why we need an additional dimension for managing changes in source code.
At the same time, Alex’s article does a great job of explaining the technical aspects of version control system. For anyone interest in GitHub, but having trouble understanding its Forks and Repos, this is a great primer.
A fork copies a three-dimensional repository, creating two equal but distinct repositories. A commit performed against one repository has no impact on the other, which means the codebases contained within will become more and more different, and eventually evolve into different applications altogether.
Full text at http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/Source-Control-Done-Right.aspx