I drank the Subversion Kool-Aid; I’m sold. But I’m not a developer. I’m a designer, and I use SVN like one. I want an application that adapts to my workflow, not one that I have to mold to. Here’s what I’ve found.
I don’t mind figuring stuff out. I can hack my way through. But, like I’d be very hesitant to mess with any sort of server configuration that I know nothing about, I also don’t feel comfortable or even want to start messing with repositories. I want something that works, where all the hardcore lifting is done for me.
I find SVN is most useful for…
- Mac compatible: as it’s my primary machine at work, at home, and on the road, this one is pretty non-negotiable
- Syncing: it’s one of the best ways for me to manage files across computers
- Collaboration: especially at work, it’s hand-down the best way for multiple people to be working on the same project, or even the same file
- Version Control: perhaps the most important, it saves me from worrying about accidentally overriding and losing files
Granted, I don’t use SVN like a developer would, nor do I ever plan to. That doesn’t mean I use it to manage Photoshop or Illlustrator files, but just that I don’t really mess with things like configuration files or
.htaccess or anything like that. It’s mostly front-end files.
Because I use it in such a limited capacity, I need an application that will allow me to do that. That means that applications that expose a lot of functionality like Syncro SVN Client or svnX are probably overkill for me. I’m also not terribly comfortable with the back-end, so anything that requires command line is out, which that means manually managing it and Textmate’s Subversion bundle are out. That also means that a GUI is probably a best choice. Of the GUI clients, the ones I like best are Versions and ZigVersion.
First things first: Versions is much prettier. There; that’s out of the way.
For me—and others like me—a user interface that doesn’t assume I’m an SVN expert is better. Hand-holding is good.
The hardest part of this process for me is the beginning. How do I “start” SVN? Both clients make it pretty easy to either connect to an existing repository, although Versions has the edge on walking you through the creation of a repository.
When you’re resuming a project, seeing what files others have changed is very important. You need to download the latest files from the repository to your local copy. Both clients show it in different ways, but ZigVersion gives you a confirmed list of all files that were downloaded.
New Files and Modifications
Each version denotes when you make changes to a document or add a new file. However, Versions does a better job of making the symbols noticeable, both in style as well as placement.
This is a biggest one for me. ZigVersion notifies you upon committing if there are files that need to be added, denoted by a question mark. You can choose to add them if you’d like, or just let them go for next time. Versions only lets you check in modified files, but there’s no indication whatsoever that some files won’t be checked in. In a production environment where possibly hundreds of files are being added at a time, I can’t be bothered with chasing down every file to add it manually. There are certainly ways around it—like switching your view from “All” to “Changed”—but, like I said earlier, I’m looking for something that adapts to my workflow, not the other way around.
While both of these are extremely viable (and affordable) options that I’d be happy to use, I think I’ll stick with ZigVersion for now.