Related link: http://www.raelity.org/archives/2003/01/27#document
Rael blogs rumors about Document, a supposed Word competitor from Apple. (What will they call their Office suite? I nominate “iRise.” Steve, think of the commercials! “And still I rise…”) Here’s a wishlist item in case of accuracy in these reports.
I think that programmers benefit from source control systems in ways that many other people might also enjoy — if only they knew how. Other forms of document change control certainly exist, but are terrible, for the most part; that is, they lack in features or robustness what CVS and friends lack in usability. Word’s “Track Changes” feature is Microsoft’s attempt; NetApp has another take on similar ideas.
It would be great if Apple (or some Office suite vendor) produced a Word-alike with a “Super Redline” feature, perhaps built on CVS or something else (consistent with Apple’s recent open source efforts — why is it that only Apple, of all the large computer companies, has figured out the real benefit of open source to their business? Everyone knows Steve and everyone watches what he does — why are their pattern matchers so terrible?). Let me compare my Document document (? blech) to your Word document and give me a good merge interface, a way to roll back to previous versions, branching, renames, and all the rest. For now, treat each user’s hard drive as their own personal repository; a networked Xserve version would come later.
(This idea grew out of some conversations I had with Brian about creating an open source repository for filmmakers — let me check in Quicktime files, sound effects, costume designs, edit decision lists, and whatever else, and let the rest of my production team receive diffs, have access to a current “build” of the film…you get the idea. This is one of the ideas I file under seductive but dangerous — I love it too much to evaluate it well. Filmmakers talk about “hanging a shot on the wall” (of the editing room) if you can tell you’re keeping it in the film because you love it on its own and not because it belongs. Brian rightly encouraged me to think of this idea as one for the wall. Here’s hoping the right movie for it comes along some day.)