Git or GitHub in our workflows?


I’m pretty interested in Git and +GitHub and whether there is scope to use either in our work. Perhaps if we were working exclusively with plain text files there may be scope as an internal collaboration option. Adding it might just add more complexity to our workflows unless we’re going to replace something with it.

One thought is to replace our current Simplenote sharing option with a Git-powered sync option for our plain text notes (or use a private repository on GitHub) which we generate as file notes or draft documents and reports. What we do is we share these notes with each other as we go. We still use Dropbox to sync other documents like Word docs and PDFs (and which won’t really sync across GitHub) but when it comes to text notes, we shift to Simplenote (we could also just use Dropbox syncing for that too but my team likes having all their notes in one place).

At the moment I use Simplenote to sync notes with Dropbox but the syncing seems to require manual reminders to keep working and that is a problem where my team creates notes in Simplenote to share with me and I don’t receive them locally until I manually sync Simplenote.

I wonder if using GitHub with the GitHub app installed on our machines wouldn’t be a solution. Can you set it all to sync automatically and in the background?

Another question I have is security. I saw that GitHub using 128/256 bit encryption for transmissions although I can’t tell what level of encryption is applied to stored data in GitHub’s servers. I suppose I could use Git to transmit and store securely on my own servers if that became a concern?



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  1. Nathan Jeffery avatar

    Git requires you to push, pull and commit changes.
    not sure it will provide the type of automatic functionality you’re looking for, for managing notes.

    It would however be pretty cool, for managing different versions of documents or comparing different versions of a folder of documents.

    1. Paul avatar

      The versioning is really interesting too. Hmm, I have a bit of research to do here.

  2. Nathan Jeffery avatar

    one other thing I can mention is the running DVCS on your computer can slow it down a bit, so I’m not sure this is optimal from a performance perspective.

    Running DropBox and DVCS (Mercurial or Git) could slow things down a notch.

  3. Nathan Jeffery avatar

    you could perhaps run the versioning on one central computer. most of it is usually done using command line(at least that’s how we roll) so you could easily do it on a small Ubuntu box via a remote SSH session, this keeping the workload in one place off your workstations.

    All versions of the file system are still available on the website though, so you could download them if you’re not in office.

    The one nice thing, if multiple people are using DVCS on their own machines, is that you can see WHO checked in the latest version of a document and the entire change history.

    you can also use the issue tracker, for logging change requests and instead of logging bugs, you could log Typos and other such issues for resolution.

  4. Rian van der Merwe (@RianVDM) avatar

    Another option, just for note syncing, is to remove Simplenote from the equation. Instead, make Dropbox the place you store text files, and use apps that sync directly with Dropbox. I use nvALT on the Mac and Notesy on iOS to add/edit/view text files that are synced with Dropbox. The team can still have all their notes in one place with this option, they just pick the app that works best for them.

    And Dropbox’s native version control is pretty good. Go to the Dropbox site, select a file, click on More, and click on Previous Versions.

    1. Paul avatar

      Yes, I think that is the simplest and most effective solution. I love the idea of GitHub but trying to integrate that into our workflows will probably complicate them unnecessarily. GitHub is a very interesting option for client-facing stuff (private repositories for work we do for them) but internal workflows would probably be better suited to removing Simplenote and sticking with Dropbox for all syncing.

  5. Nathan Jeffery avatar

    Sounds good.
    Like the idea of client facing versions, but perhaps as Rian puts it using the built in versioning of dropbox has a lot of it’s own benefits, especially if you use PackRat (unlimited rollbacks).

    For some reason I’m thinking *world domination Grin* it could be pretty cool to have an Open Legal Frame work with a “Fork me on GitHub” button…

  6. Stuart avatar

    Google doc + google drive – real time collaboration : Is this not a good option ?

    1. Paul avatar

      We’re starting to use Drive a bit more for remote collaboration because it is the only realtime collaboration space for the most part. It still sits outside our shared file structure and I don’t trust Google enough to shift all our documents there. Also, Drive doesn’t support either Markdown or conventional Word-style document structures and even if we use Drive for Markdown, it is more of a hassle to get that out of there into an app that will do something useful with the Markdown.

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