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Subversion - Developer or Administrator Tool?

Bipoha (540839) writes | more than 4 years ago


Bipoha (540839) writes "I'm a system administrator. Recently a developer accidentally "deleted" 262 items from a project in the Subversion repository, and asked for "guidance" in an e-mail to his project manager of which I was carbon copied. I never had to recover files in Subversion, so I researched, tested and documented the steps in a Sunday e-mail to him on how to recover the files. Monday morning came, and it wasn't resolved, so I sat down and fixed it in less than 10 minutes using the steps I submitted to him via e-mail. He claims I was "passing the buck" by giving him instructions instead of fixing it. My question is, "Where do our respective roles begin and end?""

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Depends (1)

Alanbly (1433229) | more than 4 years ago | (#30125082)

It depends on your Job descriptions. If your job includes CM work and his does not then it's *your* job. And really do you want a developer mucking around with revision histories if you can do it in 10 minutes?

Re:Depends (1)

emeraldd (1609773) | more than 4 years ago | (#30125458)

And really do you want a developer mucking around with revision histories if you can do it in 10 minutes?

He's talking about something that is standard operating procedure for Subversion. Unless I miss my guess, the developer in question is completely ignorant of how an RCS system works or should be used.

Re:Depends (1)

Alanbly (1433229) | more than 4 years ago | (#30126544)

I agree that the dev sounds ignorant of CM in general, but given that I would just fix it and show them how to avoid needing it. You have to be careful not to give them enough rope to hang themselves

Re:Depends (1)

Bipoha (540839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30141910)

... just fix it and show them how to avoid needing it. You have to be careful not to give them enough rope to hang themselves

"Showing" them has proven futile. But, I did discover "hooks" yesterday on the server-side, and thought of perhaps restricting their ability to delete files. I'm sure I'll get more requests that way, but to expand on emeraldd's post, I'd feel better helping them on something the can't do rather than something they won't do. Of course, I'll have to leave that to his PM to decide if that sounds like a good idea.

Slow progress has been made. They don't use Tortoise, so I had a side-by-side comparison with the PM to compare features between it and the subclipse plug-in. Needless-to-say, I'm very impressed with the subclipse capabilities. We discovered lock stealing (which I couldn't find in Tortoise SVN), and I had him humor me by right-clicking on an entry in the "affected files" pane in eclipse's revision history view, and wouldn't you know there's an "export" option. I was worried at the beginning of the meeting, because he kept asking me, "How does Tortoise SVN interface with Eclipse?" Not until later did I think of a come-back of, "Kinda like how FTP interfaces with Notepad." Oh well. We're making subtle progress, I guess.

Thank you, everyone for your comments.

Re:Depends (1)

Bipoha (540839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30125834)

Well, I'm not sure either of us has been declared CM admin. He's a java developer using Eclipse with the Subclipse plug-in. My e-mail suggested a solution with Tortoise SVN, since he's running Windows. His PM runs linux, and I pointed to an alternative method with the command-line method in that same e-mail. Today, we discovered just how simple it was to do from the Eclipse IDE.

From my point of view, I feel a developer should own their code. If they want to make a branch, they just do it. If they want to merge that branch, they have the user interface in front of them that provides the capability. If I was a developer, I'd want that control. It's simply bizarre to me that there is some abstract line separating these tasks into a "development" and "administrator" domain. I can maintain the server, and the database that makes up the repository, and make sure it's backed up, but it doesn't sit well with me to start messing with their files.

What really bothered me is that he AND his project manager were claiming it was an issue with the "server". (I came in to find his PM getting "Working copy is locked ... " error on his linux machine, and had to explain what "working copy" meant.) Considering I took a two-week old working-copy, ran an "update" (without server errors), a "copy" from the previous revision (without server errors) and a "commit" (again, no errors) ... I fail to see how the server was at fault. For 3 years they've had some strange reluctance to embrace Subversion the way I expected.

Re:Depends (1)

Alanbly (1433229) | more than 4 years ago | (#30126534)

I guess the issue here is that from the sound of it, you introduced SVN to them. These kinds of systems only really get embraced if the developers have buy-in before the fact. And given they're using eclipse and Tortoise I'd guess none of them really have any concept of what SVN can really do. Now speaking as someone who doubles as lead Dev and SVN admin I cannot fathom how a real developer could fail to recognize the power of SVN, but I see it every day and it tends to show you the blue collar/white collar divide among developers. The point is blue collar developers are trained to believe that all CM, Requirements management, Systems Engineering, and Architecture is outside their purview. White collar developers get pretty much no direction as to what the real world will look like so many of us pick up all those other skills. Anyhow, while I feel your pain, that's life when you become the expert on something.

Revoke his commit rights . . . . (1)

emeraldd (1609773) | more than 4 years ago | (#30125444)

If you're working in subversion and won't (Notice I didn't say can't) follow directions to recover "lost" files, you have no business committing to the repository in the first place. This means that you will be pretty much useless when it comes time to go hunting for the commit that broke everything. What happens the next time another developer dares to commit a conflicting change? There is no passing the buck here. Your 'developer' made the mess and was given instructions on how to clean it up. He should have been thankful that you could recover the files rather than telling him he was SOL.
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