Saturday, 24 November 2007

Things I Like: Mercurial Version Control

I was recently introduced to Mercurial version control. (
I haven't had enough time to play with it to tell how well it holds up in all situations, but first impressions are very positive.

Things I like (a lot):
- the repository is contained within the working directory, but only in the root, so you don't have version control artifacts spread throughout the directory structure.
- The way it handles development branches is very clever. Modifications are stored as changesets, which are then applied to a common parent. If two developers move down separate paths, it effectively creates two branches. It's possible to change between "branches" by reverting to the common parent and then applying the changesets for the other branch.
- It's possible to merge the two branches (called heads) together to return to a single main branch (There is a clever pattern that Dan North showed me using this that lets you merge a complex change back into another version control system)

As an example, here is how you would create a new repository once you have decided that you are going to bring it under version control (before you start, right?) :-)

We start in the working directory of the project:
- hg init (tell Mercurial to create a repository)
- hg addremove (add all files in this directory and subdirectories to the repository)
- hg ci -m "Created repository for Project X" (commit the changes to the repository)

The ease with which you can create a new repository along with the fact that it is stored alongside the working copy without all the versioning artifacts mean that Mercurial is going to be my version control system of choice for my personal projects going forward (sorry subversion)

Sunday, 14 October 2007

A couple of small touches

Sometimes it's the small touches that make the difference between an OK piece of software and a great piece of software.
A couple of small touches have stood out to me over the last couple of days.
Firstly, I've just loaded Gutsy Gibbon onto my laptop. In an office full of techy practical jokers it's very important to lock your screen if you wander away for a few minutes. One of the options in the password entry dialogue for Gutsy is to leave a message for the person who has locked the terminal. This is cool :-)

Secondly, I was driving home this evening when the traffic came to a very sudden stop in front of me. I had to hit the brakes hard, and while I diverted my full attention to avoiding a collision with the car in front, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the car (Renault Laguna) had started flashing the hazard lights.
This indicated to the people behind me that this was not an ordinary circumstance, giving them maybe a little extra warning. Overall, this car has given me a fair amount of trouble, but I liked this.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

First Week

So, my first week at Thoughtworks is over.
It has been really intense, and I am exhausted.
Monday was the normal admin stuff that you deal with on your first day at any company.
Tuesday, I got assigned to a beach project (an internal non-billable project) and also asked to help out with some server migration for another project.
At least I have managed to deliver some value this week, which is nice.

Tuesday evening was Ruby Tuesday, which was interesting (and pizza was provided). You can do some crazy things with Ruby. One of the most interesting was a demonstration of defining methods on Numeric in order to convert units of length.

I don't think I got back home much before 9pm most days, and my poor couch potato legs have had to cope with walking for an hour each day.

There is a lot of energy in the TW office. You can almost feel it buzzing. So, even though I am tired, I have had a really good time.