Martin Pool's blog

Tom Lord interview, and related things

Interview with Tom Lord, designer of Arch. Slashdot, LWN coverage.

To be brief and a bit brutal: Arch is very clever in many ways. However, Tom is way too aggressive as an advocate. Arch might scale up to large projects, but it doesn't scale down very well to beginning users on small projects. It's complex to get started, and I'm worried by signs that work is going into adding more complex features rather than reducing it. Although you can make it very fast, that's not the default.

Earlier versions were very much bound into projects being run the way Tom wanted them: wierd file conventions, only committing from clean trees, and so on. It's fine to suggest them, but trying to force them on people at the same time as they learn a new system is not a good idea. Tool designers need to know where they want to force change, and where they want comfortable familiarity.

I hope these issues are fixed. Arch is probably the most promising large-project version control system at the moment, but it really needs to get over the usability hump to realize its full potential. I feel they have about a 75% chance of getting there in the next one or two years.

One remarkable thing about the LWN page is that Larry McVoy confirms that BitMover refused to sell a BitKeeper licence to the employer of a person involved with free version control products. It's his right to refuse to sell, or to revoke a revocable licence, but this is a risk that needs to be considered.

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