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Re: Textual binaries

From: Marcus Sundman <sundman_at_iki.fi>
Date: 2004-07-30 22:08:08 CEST

> > > Subversion has an internal list of mime-types that it thinks are
> > > textual: text/*, and a few others. Otherwise it assumes that any
> > > other mime-type is binary, and un-diffable.
> >
> > That's just stupid. There is no thing as "text vs. binary"! All files
> > are binary. There isn't such a thing as "plain text". A "text file" is
> >
> Marcus, "stupid" won't get you very far here.

Sorry if anyone felt offended. However, the solution *is* stupid. It might
be better in the short term but it still is very stupid.

> And the rest of your first paragraph is, believe me, not news to any
> Subversion developers.

Great! Somehow developers in general seem to have some weird problem with
understanding the relationship between text and encodings. I can't
understand why this is hard to understand, but I've noticed that it's very
common, even this day.

> > Why on earth don't you add support for mapping each mime-type to some
> > kind of plugin that knows how to diff/merge/annotate that particular
> > type of files?
> The answer to your question (which should have been asked without the
> "on earth", by the way) is that we were trying to release Subversion
> 1.0 before the next ice age. Therefore, in many areas we chose a
> simple 90% solution that would work for most cases, and avoided
> getting bogged down in complex 100% solutions that would be take a
> long time and be harder to get right.

OK, fair enough. Unfortunately it seems that once there is something that
seems to work in 80% of all cases people won't develop it further unless
the defects go past their pain treshold, which at this point has gone up
very high. If you strive for a 100% solution, on the other hand, once you
have all bugs ironed out you will have a 100% solution.

> This is well-known philosophy of software development, which holds that it
> is better to ship than not to ship.

Yeah, "less is more" and "worse is better".

> The feature you're requesting is a reasonable one, it just involves a
> lot of UI design work, etc. Those things take time, and this is all
> volunteer labor. If you'd like to contribute constructively to that
> conversation, please start a thread on dev@subversion.tigris.org --
> but only without the tautologies and without the whining.

I was about to some time ago, but after noticing that subversion seems to be
developed with the mind set of "fix what's wrong with CVS" rather than "do
things The Right Way(tm)" I decided I'd rather spend my time on arch or
opencm. I wish the svn developers all the best, though.

> I assume you've seen
> http://subversion.tigris.org/issues/show_bug.cgi?id=1002
> http://subversion.tigris.org/issues/show_bug.cgi?id=1233
> both of which are more than a year old and which are semi-related to
> this problem.

No, I hadn't, but now I have. Maybe it's just me, but I don't see how they
are related to anything I said. To me 1002 seems to just reiterate the
misconception of "text vs. binary" and 1233 seems to be about enhanced
mime-type auto-detection or something.

Again, I apologize if I offended someone. That wasn't my intention.

- Marcus Sundman

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Received on Fri Jul 30 22:05:01 2004

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