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Re: Dealing with binaries

From: Shawn Harrison <harrison_at_tbc.net>
Date: 2004-12-14 20:36:43 CET

> Chuck Esterbrook wrote:
>> I like the edit-and-merge approach for text files, but for most
>> binaries, there is no sensible way to merge content. I also know that
>> "locking" or "exclusive checkout" is in development right now. But
>> I'm wondering how people are dealing with binary files *now*? In
>> other words, how do you avoid colliding with other teammates?
>> Maybe there is a technical hack for this or maybe there is just a set
>> of usage conventions that help. Our development team is small so even
>> an imperfect solution might work well enough.
>> -Chuck

I have my editing team working with a Subversion repository full of
Microsoft Word files. So, I've implemented a little Word add-in that
implements advisory locking. When you 'lock' a file, the script creates
a file named "filename.doc.LOCK" and commits it to the repository. If
someone else tries to do the same, he'll get a message saying "Already
locked by JoeEditor at timestamp". As long as everyone uses the client
and standard procedures (e.g., update before trying to lock & edit),
there are no conflicts. In six months with six editors making about 700
revisions working independently, we've had only one conflict -- which
probably says as much about the people as the procedure. ;->

You could do much the same in your toolset: create a set of client
wrappers around the standard tools. As long as everyone uses the client
wrappers, you'll probably have no problem. If you happen to be using
Microsoft Word 2002 to edit Word documents, I'd be happy to mail you my

You'll also want to set svn:mime-type for each file type (e.g., *.doc,
*.pdf, *.aif, whatever) in your auto-props, to keep Subversion from
automatically merging binary files, which results in a mess.

N.B. Large Adobe and Microsoft files don't seem to deltify very well,
which quickly makes for a large repository....

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Received on Tue Dec 14 21:22:13 2004

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