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Re: A word of thanks to the Subversion team

From: Ben Collins-Sussman <sussman_at_red-bean.com>
Date: 2007-06-29 02:11:43 CEST

On 6/26/07, Eric S. Raymond <esr@thyrsus.com> wrote:

> The Subversion dev team has done, in general, an extremely creditable
> job of addressing the problem it set out to solve. And I *will* say
> that. loudly, when I see you guys taking cheap shots from people who
> ought to know better. Even when they're Linus Torvalds.

Yes, we've been restraining ourselves from replying to the cheap shots. :-)

As much as the slashdot crowd drops into lazy mantras of "how lame
centralized systems" are, most of the discussion isn't really
thoughtful or informed; it's just too easy to mock old things and
drool at the new shiny things. As with all technological trends, one
needs to take things with a grain of salt.

The world of version control is somewhat small, and many developers on
the different projects know each other and cross-fertilize ideas.
While users like to imagine some sort of war going on between
Subversion and newer decentralized systems, those of us on the inside
just see things as an ongoing debate over evolving ideas. There are
long discussions of the pros and cons of different approaches. As
cool as distributed version control is, it's not perfect for everyone
(like large corporations), and in my opinion, not always ideal for
open source projects either. There's no magic bullet in version

> Are the critics right that the day of the centralized VCS has passed,
> and the future belongs to distributed systems like git, Mercurial,
> and monotone? Probably they are. I'm looking at moving to Mercurial
> myself; it seems to be time.

It's very possible. Many subversion devs (including myself) are very
aware of distributed systems, and have dabbled in them as well. (At
our developer summit last fall, we all played around with Mercurial,
in fact.) Some of us have even been discussing the possibility of
making svn 2.0 some sort of redesigned hybrid
centralized/decentralized system (at least something which allows
offline commits!)

> Still. Subversion accomplished a lot; (a) it killed off RCS/CVS; (b)
> it achieved best-of-breed status among centralized VCSes, and (c) it
> provided unobtrusive and reliable support to a lot of developers for
> a good span of years.

Even if centralized version control vanishes from the open source
world, I have a feeling it will be around for a *long* time in the
world of corporate development. Subversion is just starting to get
competitive with big commerical systems like Perforce and Clearcase --
especially now that we've added merge-tracking features. This market
isn't about to go away any time soon.

Thanks for the encouragement!

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Received on Fri Jun 29 02:11:46 2007

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