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Evaluating SVN as a Document Management Solution

From: rj <rtjoseph1_at_gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2008 07:03:34 -0800 (PST)

I am looking at SVN as a document management tool in our
orginization. We are an engineering company performing work for a
variety of petrochemical companies. We typically have 20 to 30
projects going at any one time. We generate support documents,
deliverable documents, and database content. Support documents are
typically in MS Office applications, deliverables are typically
drawings in AutoCAD or Microstation, and database content is typically
financial data from which reports are generated.

From this, I have a couple concerns:

1) From what I have read, SVN versions entire directories and not
just files. We may have 20 to 100 revisions to each drawing (each
project having about 1000 drawings). Because there are no hard links
between drawings (not even rigid links) there is little advantage for
versioning an entire directory unless each drawing is in its own
directory. What is a good way to look at this so I can most
effectively use the features of SVN for drawings?

2) It looks like SVN stores changes to files and not just the new,
complete content. This suggests that when I open a file out from a
repository that SVN must go back through all revisions and rebuild the
file. There would seem to be two difficulties here:
  a) It will take time to rebuild a 10 MB drawing through 100
  b) If any of the files are corrupted, I loose every thing for that
Is this the case and is there any way to mitigate this?

3) The FAQ says that when using Apache authentification, SVN never
sees who is doing the transaction and thus can not log who owns the
new content. This is a significant security issue. The stated work
around is for the worker to state their identification in the SVN
call. This has more concerns:
  a) This is overhead a user will elect not to do and thus we will
loose ownership of content
  b) It allows for a masquarade - changes being made in the name of
some one else
Is there an automated workaround for this?

4) Do hyperlinks work between documents in the same directories and/
or different directories as versions escalate? How does the author
design hyperlinks so they work across versioned directories?

5) As we develop work process and associated work flow diagrams,
these documents will have hyper links. We will want users to be able
to access the lates version without having to know anything about
SVN. How would we design and work process & flow development SVN
directory structure and a deployment method so we could both provide
for ease of use by the general employee and continue to manage changes
(and keep hyperlink management simple)?

6) We have a variety of database applications which we use both
interactively and generate periodic and adhoc reports. Some of these
databases are corporate wide and others are project specific. What
would be some choices of managing the data and reports?

I am looking forward to all comments.

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Received on 2008-03-07 16:16:15 CET

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