Entries from May 2007 ↓

Source Control for Micro-ISVs

I perform a good portion of my ASP.NET consulting work as a one-person team. After resuming contract work late last year I was faced with a challenge: get a “real” version control system in place. Of course, anything’s better than FTPing code off-site three times a week.

My big hang-up was set-up and maintenance time. Three years ago I spent 8 hours trying to install and configure CVS before bailing on it and purchasing SourceGear’s Vault, which I had up and running in about 20 minutes. At the time a five user license ran $599, which I consider a decent trade off for 7.5 hours of work.

This time around some things had changed: Vault licenses are $289 apiece which means expanding would be painful on the wallet (when coupled with the cost of bug tracking licenses, development tools, etc… this requires a substantial investment to bring on a new developer). In addition, there’s nothing I hate more than maintaining my own servers. My DSL has gone down once a week for the past few years, so if I had attempted to host it myself anyone trying to hit my servers from the outside world would be cut off until I rebooted my router. And like anyone else who gets busy writing code, I don’t perform backups as often as I should.

In my opinion, as a 1-3 person shop I’m much better off leaving my web, email and FTP hosting to professionals. So I began toying with the idea of hosting my source control off-site. This is a concept that has always set the hairs on the back of my neck at attention, for obvious reasons.

I did a search for “hosted source control” and noticed OrcsWeb has Vault hosting for the full price of a Vault license up front, plus $40 per user per month. Ouch…at that price I’d prefer to do it myself, drawbacks and all. I also found wush.net, who does Subversion hosted source control and has an insane back-up schedule (a back-up after every check-in). As I performed my final pass through of the search results before signing up with wush.net I noticed one of the companies doing Subversion hosting was DreamHost, the company I use for Linux hosting.

I’ve been with DreamHost about 18 months. Their reliability is awesome, and their tech support fabulously knowledgeable and easy to work with. But I never realized that my web hosting account, which I pay $16/month for, includes north of 350GB of storage. That’s approach half a terabyte. And it includes unlimited Subversion repositories. That is nuts!

After a brief email exchange, I learned that while DreamHost doesn’t back-up every 9 seconds like wush, they do keep my data from 1 and 2 hours ago, 1 and 2 days ago, and 1 and 2 weeks ago, and I can see the Subversion files when I FTP into my web server — a shared hosting package, mind you, so I can back them up manually if I want, or write a cron to do it for me.

After installing TortoiseSVN and the Ankh Visual Studio plug-in I was checking in my first project within 20 minutes. A few hours later a developer who’s contracting for me was pulling files down and we were off to the races. No 8 hour install time, no worrying about backups, no downtime, and no additional cost. I’ve been up and running for 4 months now without a hiccup.

As long as I don’t run over my 350GB storage limit I’m sitting pretty. Let’s see…that comes out to about 3.5 billion lines of code…

[tags]source control, subversion, svn, micro-isv, startups[/tags]

Software by Rob Mentioned in Programmer’s Paradise

I’ve been a fan of Programmer’s Paradise for years, so imagine my surprise when they asked to include Software by Rob in a new section of their catalog devoted to developer blogs. I assumed there would be 20 or 30 blogs in a directory-style listing, but I’m one of only three blogs on the page, and company to none other than Joel on Software and Mike Gunderloy’s Larkware News.

You can view a PDF version here.

SPSS and My Outrageous Software Licensing Experience

My wife is getting her PhD in Psychology, and a few months ago she was in need of a statistics program called SPSS. There are many questionable avenues one could travel to obtain a copy of this software, which costs over $600, but being a developer myself I purchase all of my software legitimately.

I was lucky; I found a used copy of the student version on Amazon for $87. But my wife soon found that it lacked the features necessary to run the stats for her dissertation. So back to Amazon I went, but, unfortunately, the full version was nowhere to be found.

The Sale
After over an hour of searching and three phone calls, I found out that she didn’t need to pay for the full version (which runs $600), because there is something called a “Grad Pack” that would provide her with the full version for right around $200. “Piece of cake,” I thought, “I’ll buy this copy and re-sell the student version on Amazon.” Things were looking better and better by the minute. Until I posted the student version on Amazon.

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