Private Versioning

"Solitude", an outhouse on the property of Frank Weeks, Willston, North Dakota, 1937. A place for anyone's private version...

...a developer should have a way to checkpoint changes without making these changes available to the development team at large. We want to implement CodeOwnership but subsystems never work entirely in isolation.

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Periodic integration of a developer's work with that of other members of the development team is important for ensuring stability.

Checkpointing only after completing major changes can make it difficult to back off of one phase of a change. Using the revision control area for this can lead to changes being "published" before they are ready for integration. Also, publishing intermediate changes can lead to a deceptive number of revisions listed in the SCM system. It is necessary to be able to save intermediate steps in a change in case a coding step results in an error. This is particularly important when:

  • The mechanism for specifying that a version is ready for integration is primitive, and another developer has access to a version as soon as it is checked in.
  • There is a desire to keep the revision history database "uncluttered" with only significant changes logged.


Developers should be provided with a mechanism for check pointing changes at a granularity that they are comfortable with.** This can be provided for by a local revision control area, Only stable code sets are checked into the project repository
Add a private repository to the developer work space so that a developer can save intermediate versions before checking them in to the repository. The private repository can use the same mechanisms as the project repository (i.e., RCS) or can simply be a means of maintaining copies of intermediate files.

The key point is to provide a way for developers to use revision control to save changes in increments which make sense to them, without any risk of the changes being available to other developers until the developer decides to publish a consistent and correct version. Some SCM tools support this without a need for physically separate repository area.

It is important to make sure that developers using PrivateVersioning remember to migrate changes to the shared version control system at reasonable intervals.

The revision control mechanism could also provide a means for restricting access to checked-in versions that are not yet ready for use by others, and could also provide a mechanism for filtering log messages to eliminate trivial changes.

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Note that PrivateVersioning works together with VariationBehindInterface to help prevent developers step on each others' toes, but they come about it in very different ways. Code owners (CodeOwnership) can work together to do coordinated development and testing of private features before they are released to the project as a whole.