Monday, June 7, 2010

Another reason to use a version control system

I have posted about usefulness of Subversion version control system (svn) a couple of times already, but this morning has prompted me to do another one. Subversion allows you to backup all your valuable data, saving each commit as a separate version. You can see the differences between any two versions, checkout earlier versions, have multiple working copies, etc. If you are a coder, a version control system like svn is essential.

Anyway, this morning made me love svn even more. My main computer is being shipped off for repairs, and I am currently using the boyfriend's old Mac PowerBook G4. I needed to get it setup with all my files so I can continue to do my work. Instead of having to transfer files over one-at-a-time from one computer to the other, I simply did an svn "checkout" of what I needed.

A simple "svn co https:\\my repository path\trunk\Code" and "svn co https:\\my repository path\trunk\References" at the terminal prompt (from within the directory I want to download them to) and I am good to go. All my latest scripts, and my complete reference directory (all the pdfs of all the journal articles I use as references) are now on this computer, within seconds. If I make any changes to these files while on the boyfriend's computer I can simply "commit" them to my svn repository and when I get my computer back, do an "update" and I am all set!

JabRef has also proven to me, once again, its awesomeness this morning. I simply open up my main library.bib bibtex file (just checked out from svn) within JabRef, and there are all my journals, instantly organized and searchable. The PDF links work automatically, simply click on the icon, and the journal articles pops open before me in Acrobat Reader. To see why JabRef is such an awesome reference database software, check my initial blogpost on it here, and the follow-up (showing how, in conjunction with Zotero, it can make organizing and collecting references a breeze) here.

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