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Why Wouldn’t You Use Source Code Control?

I see lots of small and midsize businesses in my role as the CTO for a Private Equity group.    Most of our companies are in the business of using technology as opposed to being in the business of developing technology.  And even though there are tons of commercial products for them to buy, they almost always build some software — a data mart, reports, automated Excel spreadsheets — something.  In short, they build software that they use as opposed to building software to sell.  Some of the companies that I work with are actually in the business of selling software to customers (mostly web applications or iOS apps).   Those that sell software  tend to use state-of-the-practice techniques for developing software applications – including the use of source code control.   Invariably, however, there are ALWAYS internal applications of some sort that are just tossed into a directory somewhere — no source code control, no development history — nada.   And I’m at the top of the heap as far as the guilty are concerned.    In this day and age there is simply no reason for it.   Any small bit of code that is going to be used for anything on an ongoing basis ought to be tossed into a source code control system.  It took me all of about thirty minutes to get my own SVN server installed and running on a small server at Rackspace — costs me all of about 15 bucks/month.  I’ve got the same basic setup (albeit smaller) on Github for $12/month.  Once you have a server up and running the rest is easy.   Creating new projects is a snap and it guarantees that nothing gets lost.   Backups only protect you from point-in-time data loss — you almost NEVER have a backup of files that covers things like daily changes.   That’s what source code control is for (just make sure that you back up your repository as well ;o)   My goal is to starting using SVN for lots of things — documents, presentations, image files, whatever.   At a minimum, however, any piece of code that gets written for public consumption (either internally or externally) should be maintained in a source code control system.

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