I’ve been reading many other programmer blogs to get a sense of what I need to know to remain marketable. When you work alone or on a small team you experience professional social isolation and don’t learn about the best practices that everyone in your industry would expect you to know.

One of the professional practices I read about was source control, also known as revision control. Source control is used to manage source code that a team of developers is working on. It maintains copies of changed files, allows you to annotate changes, keeps a repository of the project, manages the merging of files, and allows you to restore files to a previous version. Obviously this is not something you’ll use if you work alone so an independent software developer is unlikely to be familiar with it.

Most professional programmers seem to be using SubVersion. It has a Visual Studio Add-In AnkhSVN and a Windows Explorer client, TortoiseSVN. The server requires the Apache web server. I already had the Windows Explorer shell extension installed because I needed it to get some Python packages. I found some detailed instructions on how to install SubVersion on a programmer’s blog, another benefit of perusing blogs.

Make sure you install Apache 2.0 and not the latest version because SubVersion does not work well with Apache 2.2. I don’t care for this requirement because I do most of my work with Internet Information Server and don’t want to manage another web server. After you get everything installed and tested you still have to spend a lot of time getting used to the process of committing changes and retrieving projects. This requires a considerable investment in time but I can see why being unfamiliar with SubVersion might require training for a new hire.

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