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Re: [Issue 533] New - implement reserved checkouts

From: Greg Stein <gstein_at_lyra.org>
Date: 2002-08-05 10:27:24 CEST

Oh, geez. This whole thread is way too narrowly scoped. *Everybody* is
talking about developers and source code. Fine, geez. No locks.

Now talk to me about .doc files.

On Fri, Aug 02, 2002 at 05:33:19PM -0500, Jim Blandy wrote:
> I'd like to hear more about people's real-life situations, more at the
> ``project manager looking for good working procedures'' level, and

At CollabNet, we have a big-ass Excel spreadsheet that contains the feature
matrix for our upcoming releases. We use it to list out the desired
features, who requested them, what priority we feel it is [for those
customers], what release we're going to put it into, etc.

Fact: Excel spreadsheets are non-mergable.
Fact: there is only *one* instance of this .xls file; forking is not

We had about three people attempting to work on the thing. For the most
part, we flowed all the change requests through one guy. But every now and
then, we'd get this email to the Tech Managers mailing list, "hey, I want to
edit the feature matrix? anybody else working on it?" And *everybody* would
have to email back "nope. go ahead" before the first person felt it was
safe. If Joe Random was out of the office, and didn't reply, but had a
buttload of changes. Oops. We'd be screwed.

Advisory or mandatory locks are pretty well required in this situation. You
would know right off the bat that somebody else is working on it, and you
can't touch it. You can certainly go and ask the person when they'll be done
with it, and you can possibly be a prick and break their lock. But that
simple bit avoids annoying posts to the mailing list, and the requisite
replies back.

I think the difference between advisory and mandatory is mostly about how
screwed you would be if people misbehaved. Is there *any* way to derive each
person's changes and get them merged into a final document? If the answer is
a resounding no, then you apply hard-ass mandatory locks. Somebody better
have a darned good reason for breaking the lock (but yes: you always allow
somebody to break it).

In any case: get out of the "source code" mindset. Think about other kinds
of documents. Locking is required for almost any non-mergable file format.
Karl likes to say "but communication solves all that". It sure does, but the
amount of communication necessary is hella more painful than a flag bit.


Greg Stein, http://www.lyra.org/
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Received on Mon Aug 5 10:24:53 2002

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