Over the course of the weeks since the release of VersionRecall 2014 we have received a number of questions. Here is a list of the most common ones and the answers to them.
Question: Why do you not just submit a file each time it is modified?
Answer: While developing scripts, most people frequently save and run to verify that what they have done so far works. Creating a new version each and every time a file changes creates many versions of a file, which in turn requires you to weed out the unwanted versions at some point. Managing versions and dealing with things under the hood is what this product aims to avoid, so we submit in intervals, at fixed times or on demand but not each time a file changes.
Question: I was considering using Git, why would I use VersionRecall instead?
Answer: Git works well as a distributed version control system. If you need to collaborate with multiple team members and you have a place to host a Git server (public or private) you should examine if it is right for you. If you just need version control for yourself and maybe a few others without the need to install servers or putting your code out on a public server, VersionRecall is a better solution. Ultimately Git was developed by developers for developers. Just compare and see what’s easier for you.
Question: I already use GitHub, why would I need or want VersionRecall?
GitHub, while using an underlying implementation of Git, is mostly about sharing code and collaboration. You usually will use Github to share your work and start posting releases there. Until you get to that point you will still need some type of version control. Most often than not the question of “GitHub OR VersionRecall” is answered by “VersionRecall AND GitHub”. Use VersionRecall as your local versioning and backup system and share your work on GitHub once you have something ready to share. And, let’s face it, not everything can be or should be shared on a public site.
Question: How is this different than putting my files on DropBox?
Answer: DropBox requires your files to be stored in the “cloud”. If that is OK with you and your employer, use DropBox. We actually recommend using DropBox in combination with VersionRecall. Put the repository in a DropBox folder and get an online backup of it. DropBox versions whenever a file is changed (see above) and you get only 30 days unless you get the PackRat feature. Even then, you only get access to the previous versions by restoring them, which in most cases is not what you want.
Question: Why do you store full files as versions and not just differences or deltas?
Answer: When we researched the features for this product we talked to many developers and admins. From what we learned, most of the time a simple restore of a previous version is not what you want. Very frequently you have made substantial additions and improvements to a file or script and what you need restored is just a function or small part of the previous version. Doing that is just so much easier if you have two simple files to compare and transfer the parts from the previous version to your current state.
Question: Why is it so important that the versions are stored in their native format?
Answer: If your hard drive dies and you don’t have the software available we want you to be able to access the files on your network, backup or DropBox location. Imagine needing a file that has been versioned and backed up by some version control system. Now imagine that in order to retrieve a file, you have to first restore everything on your machine to make the software work. Maybe your job depends on being a bit quicker than that.
Question: I am using XXX as version control product. Should I switch to VersionRecall? Or why would I?
Answer: If your current setup works for you, don’t change it. If you picked the other software because you work in a team where multiple people access the same files, stick with what you have. However, if you are by yourself and you want something that works automatically and with any editor, is easier and has a completely transparent storage system, give VersionRecall a try.
Question: How is VersionRecall different from ChangeVue?
Answer: ChangeVue is a traditional version control system designed for teams. It uses check-in and check-out to manage access by the various team members. VersionRecall 2014 does not require that and operates differently and is intended for the single user as backup and versioning tool. Of course it is absolutely possible to use VersionRecall in a small team and submit versions to your repository from different users. There is just no lock on the anything because there is no “check-out”.