Tortoise Subversion is a simple and elegant tool for version controlling files. It is generally used on software development projects; it would be interesting to know how widespread it’s use is outside IT. For example, marketeers are enthusiastic PowerPoint users. When collaborating on documents they will generally share them via email, changing the file name with each revision, (e.g. salesdeck-0.1.ppt salesdeck-0.2.ppt until it is finished with salesdeck-1.0.ppt. But inevitably a 1.1 or 2.0 will rear it’s ugly head before it goes out).
Some organisations use rather heavyweight intranets / document management systems such as Sharepoint; could this be over-engineering when a lightweight tool such as Subversion could do the job almost just as well. This thought was recently confirmed when we were demonstrating how we would be sharing files using Subversion to our stakeholders. I demonstrated creating and checking in a document, and then showed someone else working on it, all from the familiar starting point of Windows Explorer. One of the guys from the business who’d never seen this before was incredulous. “And we’ve just spent $$$$$ on installing SharePoint. Why did no-one suggest this?!” Good question. As was “oh, by the way, Tortoise Subversion is free”, but it didn’t seem appropriate to say that at the time!