Saturday, October 23, 2010

Totally Bazaar

Well, after promising myself I'd get around to doing this long, long ago I've finally put my house (or should that be home?) in order and submitted my Projects folder to the discipline of a version control system.

Nautilus, but nice

I create a huge amount of work on various projects in the course of a year - much of which I blog about here. And I often go back and revisit files numerous times. But to err is human and sometimes I mess things up or find that my new version wasn't the improvement I'd hoped. Therefore I tend to create large numbers of back-ups just in case.

Up until now I've been using an ad hoc system of either backup folders or appending version numbers to the end of file-names. However this is messy, wasteful on disc space and prone to error. That's where a version control system comes in.

Even though version control systems are usually seen as a collaboration tool, they are also a really good idea for personal projects.

I'd actually chosen the version control system I wanted to use a couple of years ago - it's the extremely elegant Bazaar (or BZR), a free software project started by Canonical. The Bazaar project not only encourages personal use of version control - they even provide instructions especially for personal users.

There were three big attractions of Bazaar for me. The first is that it has a single command - bzr. The second is that it puts everything in a single folder /.bzr. I don't need a database or a server or anything like that. And the third is that it takes five minutes to learn. I actually use it from the command line, but there are graphical front ends for it too.

As most of my work these days is either in Python or Inkscape - which are both based on text files - there was no excuse for not using a version control system earlier.

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