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Web Interfaces (was Re: Newbie Questions)

From: Holger Stratmann <tigris_at_finch.de>
Date: 2006-01-09 01:11:48 CET

Paul Koning wrote:

> Holger> Apart from the questions you asked: I highly recommend a
> Holger> "useful" web interface for repository viewing. It really
> Holger> makes the difference!
> Holger> [ I like WebSVN better than ViewCVS / ViewVC ]
>I'll put in a different opinion.
Sure, go ahead :-)
I must say that I have not done a thorough evaluation of "all" available
interfaces - mainly due to the fact that there weren't really so many
available when I looked (almost 2 years ago). However, I know ViewCVS
because we used it for CVS and now, of course, WebSVN because we use it
for Subversion :-)
I'd be happy to find an even better interface, so my points below are
neither defense nor attack, they're simply for checking if things have
changed and if I might want to switch to a different frontend (they can
usually be used in parallel very nicely). Unfortunately, all of them
require some setup work to get diffs and syntax highlighting and access
controls and all that stuff working nicely so it takes more than half an
hour to try one...

>I looked briefly at WebSVN but didn't like it, perhaps just a question
>of esthetics, but anyway...
well, if it's about aesthetics, you can customize a lot there :-)

>I tried Insurrection, which is slick but fragile
I took a brief look and thought it had quite a "complex" browser
interface for the features it offers (at least in a browser, I like five
icons better than DHTML drow down context menus)...

>After getting the Insurrection complaints I then looked further, and
>looked at ViewVC (formerly ViewCVS), and ended up selecting that as
>our browser tool. The V1.0-dev version has decent Subversion support.
>Yes, it doesn't add a whole lot, but then again Subversion is in many
>ways similar to CVS ("culturally compatible" -- "just like CVS but
>without the design errors")
Yes, it "works", there's no doubt and no complaints about that.
However, I found one "big difference" between CVS and Subversion - a
"cultural difference" :-)
IMHO, CVS is "file centric" (who changed a specific file and when) while
Subversion is "revision centric" (who did anything and what was it?).
That's one of the main reasons I prefer Subversion over CVS and I just
have a strong feeling that WebSVN was written with this idea in mind
while ViewVC was just made "Subversion compatible" but uses none of its
additional features...

>IOW "who made changes since the last good build of our code?"
Yes, exactly. How do you find out in CVS and how do you find out in ViewVC?
In Subversion (command line), this is as simple as "svn log [trunk]". It
tells me exactly who made the last changes and what they wrote about
them. I expect *at least* that of a "GUI".

In WebSVN, every single file and (!) every directory has a "log"-link
which shows exactly that. I have not found that in ViewVC - directories
have no dates and no history... (when I last checked)
Then I get a list of revisions and can click them to "show changed
files" - "ah ok, Fred just committed a change this morning - which files
did he touch?"

For my personal use, I've found that WebSVN answered my questions pretty
directly while ViewCVS always caused some "clicking and searching".

>There are some obvious issues around
>property support, at least right now. That doesn't seem all that hard
>to fix.
Yeah well... that's not really critical for me. We don't use properties
a lot and they don't change frequently...

>One nice feature of ViewVC is that it has Bonsai-style query machinery
>integrated, and that works well. I did some tweaking and correcting
>in there to make it do Subversion a bit nicer. For example, I can now
>do a query that is limited to a range of revisions.
Built in in WebSVN 2.0 (currently at beta 7).
Just as I haven't taken a look at ViewVC in a while and might take a new
look, maybe you should (???) have another look at WebSVN.
Oh, one more question about ViewVC: Do you know how it handles access
permissions? That was one big problem I had with WebSVN 1.6 which was
solved very nicely in 2.0: It now uses the SVN access file and supports
repository and path based authorization. It displays only the files and
repositories the user is allowed to see with just one line of additional
configuration (telling it where to find the svn_access.txt). How does
ViewVC handle that? After all, that's not a CVS feature :-)

>A final comment: browser interfaces are likely to be at least in part
>a matter of taste, so try several and see which one you like best.
I agree. Not only "aesthetics", but also "typical use". They just need
to answer "your questions" nicely and those questions can vary by size
of code, size of team, type of content and so many other things :-)

Anyway: it's nice to see a couple of Subversion frontends evolving...


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Received on Mon Jan 9 01:16:33 2006

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