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Re: Disabling VC: Documentation seems inadequate.

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: Disabling VC: Documentation seems inadequate.
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2003 12:46:21 +0000 (GMT)

On Wed, 3 Dec 2003, Andre Spiegel wrote:

>On Wed, 2003-12-03 at 21:45, Alan Mackenzie wrote:

>> I think files.texi should be amended so that it explicitly states how
>> to disable VC.  The attached patch does just this.

>Sorry for making it less clear than it should have been.  Thanks for the
>patch, I'll install it.


[ .... ]

>Just out of curiosity, what was the reason you wanted to disable VC
>completely?  Perhaps there was an annoyance or a misunderstanding that
>should be considered.

For me, editing files and version control are distinct activities.  I do
all my CVSing from the command line, and prefer it this way.  I feel more
in control.

I get very emotional about this topic, and I'm not sure why.  I think
I've got hangups from some very restrictive commercial VC system I had to
use a long time ago.

Several times in the past I've done C-x C-q to make a buffer read only
(simply to stop me changing it by accident) and found to my dismay that
the file got checked in, or got error messages "can't access repository".
That such an innocent operation, toggling read-onliness, could trigger
such a drastic action (checking a file in/out) took me aback, somewhat.

Sometimes (at work rather than at play) I've just wanted, say, to
reindent somebody else's messy code temporarily (to be able to understand
it), typed C-x C-q to make the buffer writeable, and been hit with the
file being checked out.

I mentioned this in summer of 2002, and you took on the task of polling
users on the issue of what C-x C-q should do (thanks!).  It turned out
that my feeling wasn't that widespread - it was my problem.  So, of
course, I bound C-x C-q to `toggle-read-only' in my own .emacs.

But even so, in the last few weeks:
(i) Sometimes my files (checked out from SourceForge under CVS control),
get loaded into RO buffers, despite the files being writeable.  I haven't
investigated why;
(ii) Sometimes Emacs has signalled an error on C-x C-s.  This occurred on
Emacs 21.1, but seems to have been fixed for 21.3.  It happened after I'd
edited a buffer, then renamed the file to a "backup" name (e.g. mv
cc-awk.el cc-awk.191103.el) before doing C-x C-s; (I used mv rather than
cp so as to preserve the file's timestamp).

Now this is all probably "pilot error", but it's hassle which appears not
to bring me any benefit.

The basic notions about VC don't match the way I hack software  (I think
I'm talking more about VC systems which use locks rather than CVS).  I
often want to change a file _without_ checking it out - to play with it,
to see what it looks like with comments added, to test an alternative
algorithm, that sort of thing, but without impeding colleagues or leaving
the (public copy of the) file in un unstable state.  Having decided that
a change is good, THEN is the time to check the file out, make the
changes permanent, and check it in.  Emacs's VC tries to prevent me doing
things this way (if I've understood it properly).  Sometimes I want to
set a _file_ RO without it getting checked in.

In short, the copies of the source I have on my hard disk should be MY
personal copy, to play around with as I wish, unless I _explicitly_
request an update from the repository or commit changes to it.  I have no
problem with other people wanting Emacs's VC to steer them through the
processes, though.

A particularly bad thing once happened to me on a proprietary VC system.
I had made some experimental changes (after being "forced" to check out
the file first).  A colleague needed to change that file in a hurry, so I
clicked the "undo lock" button in a dialog box to give him the file.  To
my anger, that fascist VC system wiped out my changes (without asking me
first) in the process of returning the lock.

Now it's quite likely that my personal process for hacking code is
somewhat unusual, but surely Emacs exists for unusual people.  ;-)  Emacs
VC appears to hinder me personally without offering me any help.  This is
why I want to disable it.

Alan Mackenzie (Munich, Germany)

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