Is it worth it?

This forum is for all Flare issues related to using Source Control.

Is it worth it?

Postby DocNiNjA on Thu Feb 05, 2009 7:22 am

We're considering binding our Help projects to TFS. Just wondering if people who've done this can share their experiences -- good or bad.

My current thought is that we really don't need a full version history on every file. I think it would be easier to work in a shared network folder with automated regular backups. Thoughts? Are there advantages I'd be missing with the shared folder approach?
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Dave Lee on Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:26 am

My experiences with TFS weren't very good at all. We used Flare 4.0 and TFS for a 3 week period, and 2-3 times a week we'd have days where we had real difficulty in just opening a project. When you opened the project, Flare would freeze. Sometimes it might open after 20mins, sometimes you could leave it for 2hrs and it still hadn't opened.
Our system admin also moaned about the network traffic when we were using TFS, apparently our 4 authors were creating more traffic than 50 developers. I'm not sure if all these problems were anything to do with Flare or our TFS system, but the developers who used the same TFS system had no problems.

We are using Flare with VSS instead, and have been using that for over 6 months without any real problems.
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby SteveS on Mon Feb 09, 2009 2:24 pm

Source control is something that programmers love, and source control programs are designed by programmers, for programmers, and do that very well.

They are, however, clumbersome things to use and have features that are of no interest for a process that can be manaegd by good file structure.

If you need the security of booking files in and out (ie, you work in a team environment) source control could be desirable, but if you are in a small shop you might find the complexity it adds is not worth it.
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Dave Lee on Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:59 am

Yep, we really needed source control as we had 4 authors working on the same project at the same time.

Sharing projects on a network will work best if members of the team aren't normally working on the same project at the same time. If you do have a few people using the same project, then you will need very good communication so that you're not working on the same things. The potential for problems increases the more people you have, and if communication isn't good (i.e. you're not sitting right next to each other). The chances of two people editing the same topic at the same time might be fairly small, but there's a higher chance you might both be editing something like a TOC or alias file.
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby RamonS on Tue Feb 10, 2009 7:26 am

My experience from the past decade in software development and tech writing shows that when handling documentation the exact same way as source code good things happen....assuming the source code integration of your IDE doesn't stink as seems to be the case with Flare (which also natively supports only quite wonky source control systems). :roll:
Basically, you do want to use source control, even when working as a single author. Otherwise you can't branch based on version and have to deal with a growing array of backups and work copies of projects that on first sight look all the same. Using source control also makes it easier to undo something or check back to what the content was from three versions ago. It also adds a barrier to shooting yourself in parts of your lower extremities, although it also offers plenty of options to do just that even more effectively. So, source control? YES! But also keep some known good backups on a CD somewhere and take a copy home or have it placed in IT's offsite storage. Leaving the CD in your desk drawer doesn't do anything for restoration purposes when the whole place burns down.
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby DocNiNjA on Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:11 am

Thanks for the responses. I did bind a copy of a project to source control for testing purposes, and it's been going pretty poorly, even with a dedicated TFS testing environment.

I haven't seen some of the other issues reported, such as freezing on startup. However, a couple days ago I tried to rename a folder in Flare. The rename took 28 seconds in the unbound project. With the bound project, it took 1+ hour, caused a dozen or so "out of bounds" exceptions, eventually crashed my computer and set fire to the office toaster. The janitorial staff was not pleased. Granted this was in a pretty large project (15k+ files), but that's still no good.

On the whole, it seems like the extra time required to work bound to source control would be crippling. I can certainly see Ramon's point though, that versioning the Help source is easier when the help is checked in to a proper source control system. Looks like the next step is to look into decent workflows using TFS without binding through Flare. If that doesn't work out, we can always archive on microfiche.
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Dave Lee on Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:09 am

If it set your office toaster on fire, then keep some backups off-site as RamonS suggested. Or if you're in Australia, maybe keep your backups off-country.
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby SteveS on Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:15 pm

Dave Lee wrote:If it set your office toaster on fire, then keep some backups off-site as RamonS suggested. Or if you're in Australia, maybe keep your backups off-country.

:(
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby DocNiNjA on Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:32 pm

Yeah ... I'm not touching that one :shock: ... keep yer head down, Steve
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby SteveS on Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:45 pm

DocNiNjA wrote:Yeah ... I'm not touching that one :shock: ... keep yer head down, Steve

Thx.

Put our crews through burnover drills last night....
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Darci on Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:10 pm

We started source control mainly for the versioning ability that source control helps with and also because we had several resources all working out of the same core project/TOC files/CSS. We use SVN with the PushOK plug-in. No issues. Now, we have reduced our resources to just one; however, I still am glad we have our source control process in place. It makes backups pretty easy because I am constantly backing up my many Flare files to our source control server as I edit or create new files in myh project. If my hard drive crashes, I can easily pull all my Flare files down from source control onto another computer/hard drive. The initial work to setup source control with the plug-in was trying because of limited experience using all of the various tools in parallel. But once we got everything figured out, the process became very routine. My daily use of Flare with SVN/Push-OK has become pretty seemless and with no issues.

Good luck!
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby jblackwood on Mon Feb 16, 2009 7:25 am

We have been using Flare with TFS for a couple years now without a problem. The delays that some people have mentioned as a result of the integration with TFS were never an issue. Our company is getting ready to switch to Subversion, specifically Tortoise SVN. I have downloaded and installed the PushOK plugin. I am currently trying to test it out now. One thing I have found so far is that when I check out a file, and then make a change to it, if i look in my porject locally in Windows Explorere I see the red exclamation point. After I check the file in, I still see the red exclamation point on the file locally in Windows Explorer. Does anybody with Tortoise SVN and Flare experience know, if I have to actually do an SVN Update on the file in Windows Explorer for the new version I just checked in to be available in the SVN Repository for other users? I hope that's not too confusing! I think I confused myself writing it. :)

Thanks!
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Trichards on Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:53 am

Jeff,
I don't use the PushOK module mentioned but I use SVN Tortoise and it sounds like you just need to refresh your window (i.e., press F5). Once you commit your changes they are posted to the repository and available to all users but in my experience the SVN icons don't refresh automatically.

FYI I version control my source files, but when I build my webhelp I do an 'SVN Export' to a separate build folder which exports all source files to a separate folder that is not version controlled. It's an extra step, but it avoids publishing all the extra _svn folders that SVN uses to track changes. I delete the project build folder after it's used so I don't forget and make changes there.
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby doc_guy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:22 am

I'm using Tortoise SVN and PushOK's plugin on two computers (one is my main development box and one is my build box). I also have command-line Subversion installed (so I can run scripts that check in changes, update my local repository, build Flare outputs, then copy the output files to a common directory on a network drive).

Regardless of whether I check in the files using PushOK in the Flare IDE, or whether I use Tortoise SVN, or whether I use the command line, all my files check in properly and are available to other users.

I've also seen the "refresh" issue with TortoiseSVN that was mentioned previously. I don't believe the icon overlays immediately after I've updated or committed. I usually have to go up a level and come back down to see the new icon overlay.
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby jblackwood on Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:58 pm

Thanks for the replies! When you did an Import from Source Control, clicking Browse for the Project File takes me to a Select SVNURL, module an local path dialog. After I click OK, I go back to the Import from Source Control wizard but nothing is in the Browse Project File field. I can't click Next with that field blank and the Browse button takes me back to the Select SVNURL... dialog. Does anybody have any idea how to finish this process out successfully?

Thanks!
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