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Re: Global reversion number, why it would be nice.

From: Tony Morris <tmorris_at_tmorris.net>
Date: 2007-01-26 00:56:03 CET

Bret Beck wrote:
> Hi,
> Let me first state that my group likes subversion and it has many useful
> features. However, the following comment^1
> "The global revision number attached to the repository as a whole is
> meaningless from a user's perspective."
> is, I believe, wrong.

Excuse this rant, but it may be an interesting perspective for you (I
know it annoys others).

The illusion of time, the dimension, provides us with an apparent
linear, finitely divisible dimension with which we, as a species, can
refer to. We feel hungry, therefore we eat - we do not do it the other
way around for example, nor some other 'difficult to conceive' manner.
The illusion of finitely divisible time was a Newtonian view that was
destroyed by Einstein himself, however, it is a convenient illusion for
most of our everyday tasks; eating, sleeping and, of all things, using
software revision control systems. You can observe this illusion at work
when someone asks, "what is the time?". Of course, the question makes
absolutely no sense considering what we know about our universe, but
that doesn't stop us from using this layperson speak (can you imagine
the correction!?).

The Subversion revision number represents a fixed point along our linear
axis of time. This makes absolute sense given our (RCS users)
objectives. Subversion has managed to abstract the notion of time - not
to necessarily align with the cosmological definition - but with the
definition that we prefer to use. It is not important that 1 + 1 = 2;
only that 2 comes after 1 and so on. We can look at revision 2 and say
with confidence "2 occurred at some point in (our illusion of) time
after 1". We can apply this reasoning to our abstraction of time. The
fact that numbers are used is just a representation. Subversion could
instead have used naked women who put more and more clothing on as time
progresses or some other, perhaps more convoluted, representation.

You refer to a more specific example of this abstraction of time -
something to do with project version numbers or what not. Therefore, you
should apply that more specific example. In fact, subversion does
exactly that with so-called 'tagging'. Tagging does not change the fact
that our perception of time is linear - but is certainly addresses your
problem - the will to perceive a fixed point in time as 'version foo.bar'.

The question becomes, "is subversion's abstraction of time meaningful
and purposeful?" to which I respond, "absolutely!", but offer no reasons
for now since it is a (interesting) side-issue.

The answer to your question, which is completely sensible as far as
subversion is concerned, is to tag your repository with your less
general abstraction of what subversion provides.

Tony Morris

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Received on Fri Jan 26 00:56:33 2007

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