Re: Document Revision Control

Subject: Re: Document Revision Control
From: Cordell Woods <jfwoods -at- MAROON -dot- TC -dot- UMN -dot- EDU>
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 1994 22:55:39 -0500

In message <2ec232542bd5002 -at- maroon -dot- tc -dot- umn -dot- edu> writes:
> We need a better way for handling document revision control for our 200+
> technical documents. Presently, we use FrameMaker 4.02 on the Macintosh
> and keep track of the documents with Revisionist 1.3. It does not keep
> track of who has which document.

> Binion Amerson, aba -at- oc -dot- com

Revision control for documents is not much different from version control in
software development projects.

I have done a lot of work with specialized code control systems on mainframes.
Decks are electronically checked out of the main library, modifications made,
and then checked back into the library. Full tracking of the deck status is
maintained as to when each mod was made, who made it, and the exact lines
affected. Furthermore, prior versions of the deck can be regenerated at any

In the UNIX environment, there are some code control systems (SCCS) that, in my
opinion, are not very robust. A UNIX application I am familiar with that does
provide some sofisticated code control (both source and binary) is Aide-de-Camp.
It runs on several UNIX platforms. There are several other add on applications
for UNIX that do code control. I suspect some of these tools could be very
effectice for revision control in documents.

However, the microcomputer is targeted for the single user. The software
available has not yet addressed the problems of the large production shop where
accountability is important. As microcomputers and networks grow in capicity, I
believe some of the old time (1970's) traditions and concepts of multi-user
systems will return. Until that happens, I think you will have to stick to
mainframes and workstations to get the accountability you are looking for.

Since we are on the subject of document control, I want to describe a database
we have developed for tracking the contents of documents and revisions to
documents. (This is a separate Paradox database, not directly tied to the
documents, so it does not accomplish the automatic revision tracking you are
looking for.)

The database has entries describing:
Each product.
Each manual.
Each art item (photo, drawing, sketch).
Each usage of an item in a manual.
Each product referenced by a manual.

We are tracking revisions to manuals and revisions to art items, including
parent/child relationships. Thus far, we have not seriously considered tracking
work in progress, only work completed. However, I can see where we may wish to
consider that.

The database is at what might be called alpha test stage. We will begin working
on a user guide for the database soon. If you are interested, I can send you a
copy when it is finished.


Joyce F. Woods & J.Cordell Woods / Consultants
Cactus Software & Communications, Inc.
3151 Main Street NE; Blaine MN 55449-6112
voice 612/757-6916 fax 612/757-4515 email jfwoods -at- maroon -dot- tc -dot- umn -dot- edu

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