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  1. #1
    4 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Sacramento, California, USA
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Document control vs source control for documents?

    After a recent mix-up that involved several different versions of a document, I suggested that we should apply source control software (e.g. SVN) to our documents, as we do to our source code.

    The feedback I got was along these lines: "That may well be useful, but if it is, we should use a proper document control system, which is designed for documents, not a source control system, which is designed for code."

    I've been aware of document control systems for a long time, but I never paid much attention to them because I never saw the point. If you've already got a source control system, and your people are comfortable with it, why introduce a different system for documents that does essentially the same thing?

    I was referred to a particular document control system, Alfresco, which is available in both a paid enterprise edition and a free community edition. I've looked at Alfresco now... and I still don't see the point. It seems to do almost exactly what a source control system does, except that it says "document" instead of "source."

    I thought the big deal might be that Alfresco integrates with document editors like Microsoft Office, until I found that SVN (for example) also integrates with document editors like Microsoft Office (for example).

    I'm reminded of a period after the emergence of the personal computer when one contingent of managers were convinced that word processing machines had to edit documents better than computers because they were designed to do that and nothing else. This period ended a few years later when the market for word processing machines dried up completely.

    Am I missing something here?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    Thanked 295 Times in 267 Posts
    I don't use version control myself other than Sharepoint which in my experience is strictly linear using the Lock-Modify-Unlock principle and no branching. I would expect that agnostic version control software which is capable of handling any document type is going to perform the same way. If you can do this with Subversion and are already happy with it then I would think that is going to work fine for you.

    I have never gone looking for a Version Control tool but would use one that allowed Diff on Word templates so that I could review changes in 'document content' AND document properties, RibbonX, building blocks, style definitions, vba code etc. The reason I have never gone looking for such a tool is that it would have to be so specialised (and document version specific) that only MS would be likely to build such a beast.
    Andrew Lockton, Chrysalis Design, Melbourne Australia

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