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CVS can do a lot of things for you, but it does
not try to be everything for everyone.
- CVS is not a build system.
Though the structure of your repository and modules
file interact with your build system
(e.g. `Makefile's), they are essentially
CVS does not dictate how you build anything. It
merely stores files for retrieval in a tree structure
CVS does not dictate how to use disk space in the
checked out working directories. If you write your
`Makefile's or scripts in every directory so they
have to know the relative positions of everything else,
you wind up requiring the entire repository to be
If you modularize your work, and construct a build
system that will share files (via links, mounts,
VPATH in `Makefile's, etc.), you can
arrange your disk usage however you like.
But you have to remember that any such system is
a lot of work to construct and maintain. CVS does
not address the issues involved.
Of course, you should place the tools created to
support such a build system (scripts, `Makefile's,
etc) under CVS.
Figuring out what files need to be rebuilt when
something changes is, again, something to be handled
outside the scope of CVS. One traditional
approach is to use
make for building, and use
some automated tool for generating the dependencies which
See section How your build system interacts with CVS, for more information on doing builds
in conjunction with CVS.
- CVS is not a substitute for management.
Your managers and project leaders are expected to talk
to you frequently enough to make certain you are aware
of schedules, merge points, branch names and release
dates. If they don't, CVS can't help.
CVS is an instrument for making sources dance to
your tune. But you are the piper and the composer. No
instrument plays itself or writes its own music.
- CVS is not a substitute for developer communication.
When faced with conflicts within a single file, most
developers manage to resolve them without too much
effort. But a more general definition of "conflict"
includes problems too difficult to solve without
communication between developers.
CVS cannot determine when simultaneous changes
within a single file, or across a whole collection of
files, will logically conflict with one another. Its
concept of a conflict is purely textual, arising
when two changes to the same base file are near enough
to spook the merge (i.e.
CVS does not claim to help at all in figuring out
non-textual or distributed conflicts in program logic.
For example: Say you change the arguments to function
X defined in file `A'. At the same time,
someone edits file `B', adding new calls to
X using the old arguments. You are
outside the realm of CVS's competence.
Acquire the habit of reading specs and talking to your
- CVS does not have change control
Change control refers to a number of things. First of
all it can mean bug-tracking, that is being able
to keep a database of reported bugs and the status of
each one (is it fixed? in what release? has the bug
submitter agreed that it is fixed?). For interfacing
CVS to an external bug-tracking system, see the
`rcsinfo' and `verifymsg' files
(see section Reference manual for Administrative files).
Another aspect of change control is keeping track of
the fact that changes to several files were in fact
changed together as one logical change. If you check
in several files in a single
operation, CVS then forgets that those files were
checked in together, and the fact that they have the
same log message is the only thing tying them
together. Keeping a GNU style `ChangeLog'
can help somewhat.
Another aspect of change control, in some systems, is
the ability to keep track of the status of each
change. Some changes have been written by a developer,
others have been reviewed by a second developer, and so
on. Generally, the way to do this with CVS is to
generate a diff (using
cvs diff or
and email it to someone who can then apply it using the
patch utility. This is very flexible, but
depends on mechanisms outside CVS to make sure
nothing falls through the cracks.
- CVS is not an automated testing program
It should be possible to enforce mandatory use of a
testsuite using the
commitinfo file. I haven't
heard a lot about projects trying to do that or whether
there are subtle gotchas, however.
- CVS does not have a builtin process model
Some systems provide ways to ensure that changes or
releases go through various steps, with various
approvals as needed. Generally, one can accomplish
this with CVS but it might be a little more work.
In some cases you'll want to use the `commitinfo',
`loginfo', `rcsinfo', or `verifymsg'
files, to require that certain steps be performed
before cvs will allow a checkin. Also consider whether
features such as branches and tags can be used to
perform tasks such as doing work in a development tree
and then merging certain changes over to a stable tree
only once they have been proven.
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