Early in December we finally made the commitment to overhaul our development process. We had already started using a framework for development. It was now time to take a look at some new software and implement a subversion server. The goal of this was simple; to more effectively manage websites at Impulse Studios.
The move is quite overdue as version control significantly cuts down on mistakes and downtime, not to mention we can find out who to blame when something does go wrong (or maybe that should be give credit where credit is due). The most important feature for us is how easy version control makes it for us to implement new features into existing websites.
That sounds really fancy but what does it all mean?
Well if you’re a client, it means downtime for maintenance will be shorter, fewer mistakes are made, and development time is shortened. It means that if something is implemented and its not working out or its causing a bug, it can be immediately reverted to the previous working version with little hassle. In short means the management of your website (from our end) will be greatly improved.
If you are a fellow designer or developer I am sure you have heard someone say, “You really need to implement version control” and you may or may not have understood exactly what he or she were trying to convince you to do. The flexibility Subversion gives you over your code is unbelievable. Until I started to really dive into what Subversion could do I was not entirely sold on its necessity. For me the moment I decided we needed to implement subversion came with the power of the merge features, it was really the tipping point.
One article I found that does a particularly good job of explaining the theory behind what subversion is, and how it can make your life better is A Visual Guide to Version Control I highly recommend giving it a brief once over.
Subversion sounds great, workflow please!
This was a tricky one, deciding how subversion would fit into our workflow. Running an exclusively Mac environment we needed a Mac solution to integrating Subversion. Rick Curran’s article Five Subversion Clients for Mac OSX was very helpful in helping to make the decision. (normally I don’t condone lists but this isn’t a list, it’s 5 reviews in 1)
I have been “done with Dreamweaver” for a while now, playing with Coda, forgetting about it, ending up back in Dreamweaver. The subversion capabilities of Dreamweaver CS4 still need some work, and if you are on anything less than CS4 you have no subversion support. Dreamweaver also lacks and easy way to customize code hinting and colouring.
Coda seemed like the natural choice, it is a stripped down piece of software (compared to Dreamweaver) with some nice extras, and subversion support. So far Coda has worked in very nicely. CodeIgniter and jQuery Clip libraries have been quickly coming together (we might release those in a few months when they are actually worth releasing). The other nice thing about Coda is the ability to add modes which expand code colouring and hinting.
Modes we recommend:
If you don’t use jQuery or CodeIgniter, or want hinting for something else try this list of modes.
We have also been playing with Versions to help manage subversion repositories, features like the timeline, history, restore etc. make it an extremely powerful subversion client. I can’t say too much more about it as I haven’t used it enough. Needless to say I will likely be purchasing it during their 20% sale ending January 2nd.
This has been quite a lengthy post (I feel like I need to make up for the lack of posts recently) so lets wrap it up. So far switching to subversion has been a great experience (aside from the sleepless nights getting it set up). I do also need to say one thank you to Brendan Farr-Gaynor from ResIM his help saved me a lot of time getting subversion running.
Finally I would love to hear how you are integrating subversion into your workflow, or how your experiences have been so far. What software you are using with it etc. Alternatively if you haven’t used subversion and are thinking about it lets hear from you too.
Now because you’re going to need some tunes to get you through setting up your Subversion server. In the Christmas spirit (and in the spirit of getting some conversation going) we’ll giveaway a $25 iTunes gift cards to commenters if we get 25 (relevant) comments, and 2 $25 gift cards if we get 50 (relevant) comments.
Alternatively if you want to tweet this (or both) we’ll put you in the draw too:
Click Here if you’re lazy and want us to do it for you.