Document Managment – Personal

Version control software and practices has mad a big splash in the software world and is beginning to make an impact among knowledge workers. Of the different kinds I have used, I find them to be easy to use at first, but any attempt to reverse changes requires painstaking work through a mess of colored changes, non-standard formatting marks and confusing interfaces.

As I’m a student, I have access to a few pieces of software at school but it is difficult to convince companies to give you a (free) license to test these out on a personal computer. Library school requires a lot of group projects so it requires some careful version control to keep those last minute edits in line. I’ve used Google Docs with some success, but the limited table options and the strange formatting make it difficult for some of my partners to use. I’ve since come up with a personal version control system that works across operating systems, word processing programs and maintains a history of the project. It all depends on the file name.

To begin, name the file with the name of the project. Seperate concepts with . as this will preserve the file name without inserted characters across operating systems. This can be simple or as complex as need be

Fiscal.Report… Without the . this will end up as

Fiscal%20%Report.

Add the year, class, department or another identifier

Fiscal.Report.2007…

And then add the versioning

Fiscal.Report.2007.v0.1.doc

Fiscal.Report.2007.v0.9.doc

Fiscal.Report.2007.1.3.doc

I use a lower-case v to signal the start of the version numbering so my eye is drawn directly to the end of the document. I generally use 0.1-0.5 for outlines, 0.6-0.9 for drafts and 1.0-2.0 for re-writes.

For group projects, the work is usually divided between the members of the group, combined by one editor then re-written by others. Control for editing is accomplished by adding the name of the last person to edit the document to the end.

Fiscal.Report.2007.v1.6[Brett].doc

In order to make this work, you need to go to the file menu to ‘Save as…’ instead of simply hitting Ctrl-S to save the current document, in order to create a history of documents. With a little care, you can easily create show the evolution of a document, manage it’s transmission between members of a work group and quickly identify which version is the most recent.

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