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Sat 09 Sep 2006

Subversion

Category : Technology

I've made massive changes to, at least, the internals of Luca. I couldn't have done it without using Subversion, a version control system that I used to store my evolving Luca project files.

There is a one-click install of Subversion for Mac OS X that you can get from Martin Ott's web site.

I access my Subversion repository using this GUI front-end called svnX :

This combination of Subversion and svnX, together with FileMerge, below, which comes with Xcode, provides me with some sort of a Time Machine (no need to wait for Leopard). I'm able to compare across different versions of every file in my project, thus making it possible to do the kind of multiple changes that I was doing to a rather complicated project, in the last three weeks, in a very systematic way :

I'm highlighting this because I'm always puzzled why enterprises don't use Macs more. If they're worried about being locked in, a case can be easily made that they're even worse off, as far as being locked in is concerned, using Microsoft as their development platform.

The tools I've mentioned, Subversion and svnX, are both free, open source projects. They're fast and work remarkably well. And they allow multiple programmers, spread out geographically, to work togther and synchronise their work with fine-grained precision. The databases I've been using, MySQL and SQLite, are also free and open source.

In fact, in the last four years, I've totally turned over the things I know how to do. Prior to that, my main development platform was 4D (4th Dimension) and Oracle, and I used to pay $10,000 at least every two years for the privilege of using them.

It slowly dawned on me, after OS X was released, that the economics of software development, at least on the Mac, was changing. I don't have to do those enterprise-scale systems I was doing anymore, to keep me in my fix, since I do enjoy building systems. But I was building systems for Windows users (although I stubbornly clung on to our PowerBooks) and that wasn't what turned me on each day.

I wondered, then, if I could be doing the things I am doing now - selling the software I build over the Internet to Mac users, doing things on a smaller scale with, say, no more than three people, and spending more time with my kid. If this is any inspiration to others, I mean to say that if you can visualise something you want to achieve, you can often make it come true.

But coming back to the topic, the tools we have at our disposal today are stupendous, absolutely first class. And most of them are free. Why is the enterprise not picking up on this opportunity?

Systems are the life-blood any enterprise, whether you are a passion-driven company like Patagonia or a staid old company like (fill in the blanks). You need to be able to get at the data and shape your systems to meet your company's needs and its beliefs.

Tools are the key. The best tools you can find. The simplest, easiest, strongest tools. Because building a company is hard. Why complicate things by using clumsy, overly elaborate, unfathomable systems like Windows?

I like to think that the thing I'm doing now is subversive - to the current entrenched corporate wisdom. I'm using the best possible software development tool I can find, to build systems at the cheapest possible price, on a platform that nobody else had believed had a relevance to business, except for the Mac users, and to help make these Mac users successful in business. If I could ever be successful at it, that would be like proving a point.

Posted at 11:55PM SGT | permalink


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