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Subversion for collaborative document editing?

From: Wolfgang Keller <wolfgang.keller.nospam_at_gmx.de>
Date: 2006-06-19 20:15:34 CEST


in our office (technical consulting company) we work a lot on quite large,
structured documents (project reports), usually multiple users at once one
the same document. Currently we are using youknowwhat for these documents and
it's the usual mess, not just for merging all the modifications by all the
editors. Now that I've found out about a quite affordable (much less $$$ than
e.g. Framemaker) and "clickdroid"-proof "native" XML authoring application, I
would love to replace this mess with a more efficient toolchain.

The basic idea is to use a sourcecode-management software to store the
"source code" of the documents, which would be "native" XML (probably
docbook). After looking at a few available SCM systems, I would prefer
subversion for certain reasons such as the availability of "clickdroid"-proof
installers and GUIs for non-*x systems as well as documentation.

What is still unclear to me however is

- which sourcecode-management software is the best for our needs and
- what I need between the sourcecode-management software and the XML
authoring application so that for the end-user it looks essentially as if
(s)he was working with "just an ordinary filesystem".

So far it seems to me that the answer to the second question is essentially
"a WWW server that supports WebDAV" (e.g. Apache with Mod_DAV) on the server
with the SVN repository. The WebDAV server can then be mounted on the clients
and the files can be retrieved and stored "as usual", the end-users just
don't see any difference between the currently used file server and the
WebDAV server. Diffing and merging of the modifications would have to be done
on the server, more or less manually. Correct?

The answer to the first question apparently depends a lot on our requirement
to support offline work with documents. We have a lot of free-lancers who
work from home and we also work a lot abroad ourselves (using notebooks with
fairly limited hardware resources). Does this mean that Subversion would not
be an adequate choice for us? Do I have to look into one of the "distributed"
sourcecode-management systems instead?

TIA for any help (and if available references to any documentation on this
kind of application for sourcecode-management tools)


Wolfgang Keller

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Received on Mon Jun 19 21:26:41 2006

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