miercuri, 23 iulie 2008

The Evils of Shared Check Out

I won’t discuss the obvious what-do-you-do-when-somebody-else-checked-in-before-you-and-now-you’ve-ended-up-resolving-the-conflicts. I think there are more subtle motives why the version control shared check out has negative impact on modern software development.

I believe that the shared check out feature of most source control system (svn, cvs, tfs) originated in a time when developers worked on huge code files, when solving one bug meant making adjustments in more than one of these monstrosities at the same moment. In a time of stone age development tools, when modern programming concepts like OOP and FP were in still in the realm of academia and of obscure languages.

The tools and languages evolved, but the way they were used had its own inertia, based on human habit and familiarity with a way of “doing things”. Forget about one class - one concern, some people are still struggling with one function – one concern.

The conclusion is that if you are aware of a couple of development techniques, there will be no need for shared check out. One class should be modified for only one reason, so two people don’t have to edit it at the same time.

Of course there are counter examples. I already hear people shouting “configuration files”, “generated code files” etc. Those are exceptions and at the same time, they are not. If you’re willing to break the structure into small, manageable parts, you’ll find a solution for them. And if you really need to store many things into one file, be sure to set rules for how people should edit it, so they know how to not get into trouble. This is a similar problem to using only pure functional programming. FP is great, but you’ll need to modify state sometime: make sure you’re doing it in a standard, isolated way, so when a problem arises you’ll know what you’re dealing with.

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