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Pragmatic Version Control Using Subversion

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Thu, 10 Feb 2005

This is an archived blog post. I've switched to using WordPress as my blogging software and have not migrated all my old posts. I believe strongly in not letting an old link die, so this page continues to work. Please do visit mikemason.ca/blog to read newer posts.

Pragmatic Version Control using Subversion

I’ve been pretty quiet recently and the reason for this (apart from a slight World of Warcraft addiction) is that I’ve been working on a book. I’m very happy to announce that Pragmatic Version Control using Subversion has finished printing and will hit bookshelves any day now. You can get the book from the Pragmatic Programmer website or from online vendors such as Amazon. Writing a book is a significant chunk of work—more than I’d imagined it would be—but I’ve had a great time doing it and been supported by some wonderful people.

Writing a book for Pragmatic Bookshelf is great for a number of reasons. First off you get to work with the Pragmatic Programmers themselves, Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt. Dave did the editing for my book and was my main sounding board and agony aunt throughout the process. Dave has a real knack for cutting through a problem and finding a simple solution. There were a couple of times when I was kinda stuck on something, and he’d suggest a simple reorganization or change of focus, and I’d say “Wow. That is totally the right thing to do.”

The Pragmatics have an authoring system based on XML, rather than Word. This is critical—don’t let someone tell you Word’s “track changes” feature is going to cut it. A text-based format where I can see precisely what markup I’m using, coupled with real revision control for all the book sources, gave me real control of what was going into the book. Even better I can render straight to PDF on my laptop, seeing the actual book as it will look in print. The same XML sources are used to produce the version for print and the downloadable PDF. This means there’s one place to make corrections, rather than a complicated conversion from Word to some publishing format and the accompanying introduction of errors and difficulty making changes.

Book writing is a lot of work. I figured the bulk of it was done once I got to first draft and the book went out for review. The reality is that this was about half the work. I had excellent review feedback and a bunch of ideas for taking the book forward in various ways, and figuring out which of these to include was pretty tricky. I’m planning to expand on some of these topics in my blog, in the cases where I couldn’t fit stuff into the book.

I’ve been getting nice reviews from people so far and welcome any comments you might have (especially errata!). You can contact me via www.pragmaticprogrammer.com or email mike@mikemason.ca.

Posted 22:36, 10 Feb 2005.  

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