When you first introduce someone to source control, things often go smoothly until the first time they have to merge conflicting changes. Then they wonder,
What's the point of this? I thought it was supposed to be easy but it's a PITA.
Two responses on how to combat this immediately come to mind.
The first thing that can help in this situation is to ensure they aren't having to merge useless files. I'm thinking of files here like the CSS generated from SASS: they change frequently but the changes don't affect them one way or the other. (In this case, because the CSS will be regenerated). Another example is a user-specific project settings file.
Two strategies to avoid useless merging are to ignore files (do not have the repository track them) and to automatically use one version of a file or another. Each has it's place.
In the case of a file that needn't be in the repository to begin with -- things like Thumbs.db or .DS_Store -- you should obviously ignore them. In the cases where files should
be in the repository, but where you know which version you want all the time, you should consider telling it to always choose one file over another.
If you're using git, .gitignore
will help you ignore files, while .gitattributes
will help you choose one file over another without specifying it every time. I only wanted to make you aware of this, and Pro Git explains it better than I could, so I'll let you read about how
to do it over there.
Thanks to Markus Prinz
who helped me find .gitattributes when I didn't know the term I was looking for.
So what's the second thing that helps a newcomer to source control overcome their hatred of merging conflicting changes?
Remind them the alternative is to consistently have their own work overwritten
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