Version Control for Structure Editing

Version Control for Structure Editing

That’s the heading for my newest job (with T omas Petricek), provided at HATRA [paper] [recorded talk]

With this work I am lastly facing the devil cursing my work: variation control. If we are to free shows from text we require to make structure modifying work, consisting of variation control. There will be restricted advantage from structure modifying if partnership forces us to return to text modifying. It seems like this persistent issue has actually been dragging me down permanently. I’ve invested limitless effort attempting to deal with differencing and combining with ingrained special IDs, however I never ever got it totally exercised, and it stayed as technical “dark matter” blocking all my jobs. I lastly needed to accept that the entire method wasn’t working, and begin over.

I’ve relied on the concept of Operational Transformation (OT), which is how Google Docs works. OT does synchronization, not variation control, so I’ve repurposed and generalized it to support long-lived versions with distinction evaluation and handbook combining. Remarkably, it appears nobody has actually done this in the past, and I needed to develop a brand-new theory.

The outcome is “top-level” variation control. By observing the history of edits we can do far more smart variation control. A rename refactoring is a single atomic operation that does not contrast with any other, whereas in textual VC it disputes with every modification on the exact same line as a circumstances of the name. There is likewise a huge chance to streamline the conceptual design of variation control, which is honestly an utter catastrophe in git. Maybe variation control is in fact the powerlessness of the textual building, where we may be able to win a fight.

The paper locates our work as restoring the “image-based” shows design of Smalltalk and LISP makers and other cherished systems like HyperCard. Images combied all code and information into unified and habitable shows worlds. He trouble of partnership and circulation were significant blockers for image-based systems. Due to the fact that images integrate code and information, we need to likewise handle schema modification, which we speak about in the paper. We see schema modification as another neglected advantage to structure modifying to assist incentivize the relocation from text.

We have a long method to go towards that vision, however a minimum of this paper is a concrete action. I have not released a paper in ages. Thanks to Tomas for assisting me reboot.

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