Reply to post: Source code control fun

This is why copy'n'paste should be banned from developers' IDEs


Source code control fun

Many years ago I was doing some contract work for a company that was one of our suppliers (which was OK with my bosses as we were also one of its shareholders - its was a complex relationship). I was at their offices and was finally given access to their source code to help track down a bug we'd been experiencing.

The first source file I opened up had an SCCS control header comment in it detail the name of the file, when it was last checked out, etc. That's good I thought - at least we can go back through the deltas to see where the bug appeared from and why. But my hunting took me from that source file to another. And this file also had an SCCS header comment.

The same SCCS header comment.

The _exact_ same SCCS header comment.

I quickly looked through several other source files of the many in the directory and they all had exactly the same SCCS comment at the top, referencing the name of the first file I'd looked at (which was the entry point for this program). I queried one of the development managers there and he was pleased to confirm that they had used SCCS for some years, after another contract programmer had showed them it. Except by "use" he meant that all of them just cut and pasted the same comment template at the top of each new source file and sort of assumed that some deep magic then kept track of the file, without ever really understanding how source code control systems in general, and SCCS in particular, worked.

When I explained it to him and a few other programmers there I could see the life force draining out of them. It always amazed me even back in the 1980s that Universities and Polys never seemed to mention version control systems to their students.

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