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VOODOO Flashback

When you’ve been involved in (or just been watching) an industry long enough, you begin to see cycles. Or maybe they’re just ideas which were ahead of their time and eventually have come to fruition. (You can stop your smirking right now, Smalltalk advocates.)

Since changing from CVS to Subversion, one of these possible cycles has been tickling my basal ganglia: The change from CVS’ “every file on its own revision schedule” to Subversion’s “one revision for the entire repository state” has been both a blessing and a confusion, but it also reminded me of a revision control system from the pages of MacTech magazine. A few days ago, I finally remembered a keyword (“orthogonal”) at the same moment I had some time to do a bit searching, and I found it: VOODOO. From the stale MacUpdate entry:

VOODOO Personal (Versions Of Outdated Documents Organized Orthogonally) is a stand-alone version control tool, with a neat graphical user interface. It offers simple and clear access for managing projects in which files evolve in numerous versions. The tool manages not only variants and revisions of single files, but of whole software projects (multiple files, multiple users, multiple variants, access rights, project structure, project history, etc.).

VOODOO differs from previous source code control systems in its orthogonal approach to version management. This means that for every component of a project hierarchy, you can not only store its revision history, but also different variants of the same component. The orthogonal organization of revisions and variants leads to a much clearer arrangement than in other tools which use trees for organizing variants and revisions.

VOODOO uses delta storage for storing different versions, which can yield savings of about 95% (up to 99%). It is not restricted to text files but also handles files of arbitrary type (desktop publishing documents, databases, libraries, applications, etc.)

I remember downloading a trial of VOODOO Personal and not grokking it, but I hadn’t even started using CVS at the time; was Subversion simply a descendent? Reading the afore-linked ATPM review and the Google Book Search text of Software Configuration Management, I’d have to conclude “no.” The terminology still seems generically confusing, and the perceived level of fiddlyness is still something of a barrier, even though many of the concepts (variants and freedom of file layout) are appealing.

It seems uni software plus no longer maintains VOODOO—not surprising given all the screenshots you’ll find online are chock full of Platinum window goodness—but I wonder if its absence isn’t just due to it riding a wormhole into the future.