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No grand hypothesizing, no visionary pronouncements here—open eyes and accurate note-taking are what's needed most.
But they also had access to a steady stream—indeed, an uncontrollable geyser—of bottom-up source material.
Subversion was already in the hands of thousands of early adopters, and those users were giving tons of feedback, not only about Subversion, but also about its existing documentation.
Do branches and tags work the same way as in other version control systems? Frustrated at seeing the same questions day after day, Ben worked intensely over a month in the summer of 2002 to write , a 60-page manual that covered all the basics of using Subversion.
The manual made no pretense of being complete, but it was distributed with Subversion and got users over that initial hump in the learning curve.
When O'Reilly decided to publish a full-length Subversion book, the path of least resistance was obvious: just expand the Subversion handbook.
The three coauthors of the new book were thus presented with an unusual opportunity.
It began with Ben Collins-Sussman's observation that people were asking the same basic questions over and over on the Subversion mailing lists: what are the standard workflows to use with Subversion?This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License.To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA. But it's a lot easier to make up imaginary Frequently Asked Questions than it is to discover the real ones.Compiling a true FAQ sheet requires a sustained, organized effort: over the lifetime of the software, incoming questions must be tracked, responses monitored, and all gathered into a coherent, searchable whole that reflects the collective experience of users in the wild.It calls for the patient, observant attitude of a field naturalist.Officially, their task was to write a book top-down, starting from a table of contents and an initial draft.