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Week 15 Version Control

December 3, 2009

My past experience with version control in class has always started with a set up that enabled each of us to check in/out work using Dreamweaver. The reality was that many of us were working on different parts of the website at the same time. We found that submitting everything to one person to place on the server was the only way we could keep the version straight – always having this same person backup the site.

An article from Woorkup mentions a few project management trial and free versions. Two programs activeCollab with a free trial (but commercial price tier program) and No Kahuna – with a free and commercial version – have methods to track work as it is being updated and changed. In another CCO class on Web Project Management, my team successfully used ClockingIT and Google Docs to portion out the workload and track progress. Both of these are free, you can add workers to make changes alongside you in spreadsheets and documents and determine whether users can edit any portion of the work, or just view the work in progress. This is not for making version changes on the main website and server, but these tools helped by tracking our progress – and also let us see where we needed extra help – or if another team member was lagging behind, we could jump in and help. I believe that some of the functions that the commercial programs have available can be met using these free programs. Another commercial program mentioned in the Woorkup article is Base Camp for Web Management, and costs from $24-$149 per month depending on the number of sites that are being tracked. Base Camp has a 30 day free trial available on their website.

Working with CMS projects really makes version control easier in the sense that the developer can restrict some of the editing that others are allowed to do – but keeping a version control number in an orderly manner can be hairy because of this. Also the 3rd party updates and CMS updates add to the complexity requiring a way to monitor factions outside of a schedule. I would probably have one Super Administrator back up the website before any changes, and keep a running log of the versions using GoogleDocs and listing the major changes of each version. This way clients and all involved can see the changes and make suggestions for improvements.

I think that version control will be imperative as I maintain more websites. I think it will give me a chance to keep track of updates, show clients that they are up to date and that their websites are being properly maintained. For this reason I will be researching good version control programs as my business grows and I recieve more clients.

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