Really, Really Distributed Revision Control

Posted: Wed, 22 April 2009 | permalink | No comments

While I'm not a fan of cut-n-paste coding, on the odd occasion it's handy to grab a snippet of code out of someone else's blog and plop it in.

Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror has a solution to some of the downsides of ripping a bit of code from somewhere on the Internet: publishers of code snippets generate a new GUID, tag each code snippet with a GUID, and you paste that comment in with the rest of the code when you take it. Then, if you (or someone else) needs to look at the context of the chunk of code, find it's author, look for improvements or commentary, or see who else has used that snippet in their own projects, you can search for that GUID and you should come up with only that GUID as a result.

What I propose is this:

// codesnippet:1c125546-b87c-49ff-8130-a24a3deda659
- (void)fadeOutWindow:(NSWindow*)window{
        // code

Attach a one line comment convention with a new GUID to any code snippet you publish on the web. This ties the snippet of code to its author and any subsequent clones. A trivial search for the code snippet GUID would identify every other copy of the snippet on the web:

How very, very cunning. He also proposes that if you modify a snippet and republish it, you should keep the old GUID and also add one of your own, so you can track the origin and help other people find your alternate version.

Attaching unique identifiers to chunks of code and sending them all around the Internet. Does this sound like distributed revision control to anyone else? A lot easier to master than Git's UI, too...

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