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Versioning

What...links_digitalpreservation.png

A version control system offers a complete history of your files and allows you to share changes made to iterations. This supports the authenticity and provenance of the file.

Why...

A version control strategy is important when various iterations of a file are likely. This will help you keep track of changes for files that are being developed and shared between people and storage locations. You will also be able to easily compare content from one version to another and revert back to a previous version if deemed necessary.

How...

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Recommended

  • Agree on a consistent and systematic naming convention in order to identify different versions of a file, clearly indicating the current 'master'.
  • 'Identify milestone versions of files to keep.
  • Maintain single 'master' files to avoid problems related to developing multiple working versions being developed in parallel.
  • Agree on a single storage location for the 'master' file and milestone versions.
  • Where possible identify on the document (either within a header or footer or within the file metadata) filename, page number and date the document is created/revised.

Optional

  • Record the status of the file (draft, final, internal, external).
  • Record an overview of changes made when creating a new version.
  • Record any related material where helpful to do so.
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Example

Consistent file naming convention

Agree on a file naming convention in order to indicate the version and level of changes made. An example is to increase the major versions using a defined incremental scale such as 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, etc. Amendments to the versions would be labelled as 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, etc. This offers a distinction between major and minor revisions. This is illustrated below...

  • FE11_FileExample_0-1 to represent the first draft
  • FE11_FileExample_0-2 to represent the second draft
  • FE11_FileExample_1-0 to represent approved version 1
  • FE11_FileExample_1-1 to represent amendments to version 1
  • FE11_FileExample_1-2 to represent further amendments to version 1
  • FE11_FileExample_2-0 to represent approved version 2
 
Version control table

Within each document, or within a supplementary document related to a particular digital file, include a version control table to highlight the file versions, the status of each version, who is responsible for each version, what date the new version was last amended and an overview of changes made...


Version Responsible Date Changes
FE11_FileExample_2-0 John Byrne 20140812 Major revision with amendments to sections 2, 4 and 6
FE11_FileExample_1-2 Jane Budding 20140219 Document checked by JB and minor edits made to section 2
FE11_FileExample_1-1 Lucy Smith 20140201 Document checked by LS and minor edits made to section 2
FE11_FileExample_1-0 John Byrne 20140121 Original
FE11_FileExample_0-2 John Byrne 20140115 Second draft
FE11_FileExample_0-1 John Byrne 20140110 First draft
 

Version control software

Versioning software is available and can be used if you feel the need. An example is Apache Subversion.

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Authenticity

Digital material can be altered, copied and deleted with relative ease. It is therefore important to be able to ensure the authenticity of your material so that users can trust its contents.

  • Keep a single 'master' file to avoid problems related to developing multiple working versions being developed in parallel.
  • Agree on a storage location for the 'master' file and restrict write access to this in order to prevent unauthorised access to data that may potentially lead to unauthorised changes.
  • Assign responsibility for 'master' files to a single project team member.
  • Record all changes to the 'master' files.
  • Archive copies of the 'master' files at regular intervals.