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I'm new to all this versioning business so please help me understand the different versioning software out there that will suit my need. I've come to a sad realisation that I need to start versioning my documents and code because when I was transferring data through USB, it got really messy and I lost a lot of work in the process. Lost all my design work because I copied the wrong folder and thinking it was safe to delete, did a "shift-del"... Stupidity a side - lesson learnt.

So I did a lot of searching around, and I've settled on Git (on BitBucket) for versioning the source code. However, I'm having a hard time finding a solution for:

  • Documents such as word docx, pdf
  • Design models such as UML and flowcharts
  • Project management and schedules such as Excel spreadsheet or MS Project deliverables

My requirements are as follow:

  • Individual file checkin/checkout capability (for collaboration)
  • File locking on checkout (to prevent conflicts)
  • Ability to a commit a new version without checking in (allow to keep offline if I'm the only one working on the document. On a one man project I would simply keep everything checked out and simply commit for versioning.)
  • Automatic version numbering on commit or checkin

I currently have personal cloud sync to keep file history on each save. However, this is presented in a meaningless state and serves only as security should I make a mistake. The requirements stated above will add a meaningful way for me to review and roll back on "milestones".

Please advise if there is anything out there that meet this requirement.

  • Just a comment, you seem to be confusing Git with other VCSs. Git is decentralized, for example, so there isn't really a checkout/checkin process. – Undo Nov 12 '14 at 0:27
  • Which is exactly why I'm asking this question. I'm using git for my code. But I want a versioning system for my documents as well. – user3804927 Nov 12 '14 at 0:34
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Version Control Systems generally do not care about what the files fed to them represent – though they tread file types differently (e.g. binary files). So we can leave the file-specific stuff aside.

From your description, it looks to me as if Subversion might be a good match:

  • Individual file checkin/checkout capability (for collaboration): Possible. Simply specify the file(s) you want to check-in, e.g. svn ci file.doc, svn ci *.pdf, or svn ci files/*
  • File locking on checkout (to prevent conflicts): Possible. Use svn lock <target>, with <target> being interpreted as in my previous example – so you can lock a single file, multiple files, or entire directories
  • Ability to a commit a new version without checking in: No. That would only work with a de-centralized system like Git, which keeps copies of the repository on each machine – but then you'd normally have no locking.
  • Automatic version numbering on commit or checkin: That's a substantial feature of every VCS I'd say, so it's naturally available with SVN as well.

You will have a hard time finding a system matching all your requirements, so you will probably have to decide on what to compromise. With Git there won't be file locking (due to its de-centralized structure, this cannot be done) – which to me looks more important than the "local commits". The latter you could "substitute" by (temporarily) keeping copies of the file in a separate directory, which of course can be excluded from the repository using e.g. .svnignore.

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    It is possible with Subversion to commit a file without releasing the lock (svn commit --no-unlock). I believe this feature could provide a "Yes" answer to point 3. – Greg Hewgill Nov 12 '14 at 18:49
  • @GregHewgill not "literally" (as commit/checkin are the same with SVN IMHO), but from what the OP wants this seems at least a "partial yes" – so +1 to that from me! – Izzy Nov 12 '14 at 21:30
  • SVN, like a lot of VCSs does not do a very good job on binary files such as word documents, you are better off using markdown or similar for the files and generating Word if needed using pandoc. – Steve Barnes Nov 13 '14 at 0:00
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    @SteveBarnes: I don't believe that is the case. SVN diffs files byte-by-byte to store them (as opposed to when doing an svn diff). I have a lot of issues with SVN, but that is one of its strong points. ref: support.wandisco.com/index.php?/Knowledgebase/Article/View/209/… – pdr Nov 13 '14 at 0:35
  • SVN is better than say CSV in this respect but if you have large binary files with large deltas, (often the case for even a small change in zipped formats like docx), you can still get server slowdown. Personally I admire hg for its zipdoc and bigfiles extensions to handle this sort of issue. I still advise mardown for document storage as you are not subject to the MS "I will not read that its from 3 versions ago" syndrome. – Steve Barnes Nov 13 '14 at 6:04
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Git and most other source code-oriented tools are not optimal for document management.
What you need is a document management system or ECM system.

NemakiWare is exactly that:

  • Store a hierarchy of folders and documents of any type/size.
  • Modifications are saved as new versions.
  • You can always revert to a previous version.
  • Check out a document, edit it, then check it back in. It will be locked so that other users can not modify it at the same time.
  • Check out/in is not an obligation, you can edit documents without it.

It is free, and open source.

There is a web interface that shows your documents, and allows you to preview them, download them, or move/delete/copy/etc.

You can also associate metadata to a document, for instance a draft/final/obsolete state, or workflow information: waiting for approval / approved for sending / sent to customer.

You mentioned file sync. Using NemakiWare exclusively via the web interface is possible, but NemakiWare also supports the CMIS protocol, so I suggest using CmisSync which will synchronize your documents to/from your computer's filesystem, handling conflicts like Dropbox.

NemakiWare UI

Disclaimer: My company makes both NemakiWare and CmisSync

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