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Old 03-29-2010, 01:57 PM   #47
chaley
"chaley", not "charley"
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Posts: 5,898
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: France
Device: Many android devices
Quote:
Originally Posted by kovidgoyal View Post
Interesting (and slightly horrifying) use for dropbox, why don't you use a version control system?
Short, common, story.

The project needed to produce a 'deliverable document' in a couple of weeks. Each partner was in charge of a section. One of the project members set up a partitioned document structure using latex sub-documents, put this into dropbox to simplify sharing the parts, and announced its existence to the partners. It worked quite well. So far, so good.

As days went on, the document structure started to morph. People found that 'their part' was actually distributed through the document. Clearly there would be simultaneous editing, but "it wouldn't be too much and anyway, who has time to set up a repository? We must finish soon!" This didn't work as well, but we could handle the conflicts.

Then someone decided that some code was needed to generate some of the figures, and as a side effect do some formal analysis and proofs on parts of the model. Great idea. Bang into dropbox it went along with a logic engine and a bunch of other stuff, and bang went the collisions. However, we were 2 days from deadline, so we lived with it.

This story is a classic example of why 'we' should think about what we are doing before charging off to use some shiny new doodad that seems to solve the problem. Although dropbox is trivially easy to use, distributed repositories are also easy to use and are more appropriate for the task. A subversion repository coupled with tortoiseSVN would have neatly solved the problem, and is arguably just as easy to use especially in this context.

Sigh.
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