Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Git and the Writer

In the development house I work at we have multiple programmers and designers all working on the same web projects throughout the day. We all work on our local machines, then push up to the development server. Without a way to track changes we would be erasing our co-workers efforts all day long. Luckily we do not have this problem because we use version control, a method of tracking changes across a wide range of users, and the tool we use is Git.

Image the power of your editors and beta readers to commit changes for your review through a freely distributed application where each participant can enact changes without the knowledge of others doing the same.

Medium stepped into the creative writing git fray with their Top 10 Reasons Git is a great tool for creative writing in which they touch on Git-Scribe,  "The git-scribe tool is a simple command line toolset to help you use Git, GitHub and Asciidoc to write e-books."

Then there is Hoborg, dieselpunk science fiction novel created in Git; a book that is  contributed, commented and edited by its readers. Looking to involve your audience?

Zen Mode allows you to remove distractions and directly work on your "cloud", your own  750words.com that you can give others access to.

I reached out to a Git user group on Google + looking to see what others are doing:

  • Ian Barton who uses Git to manage both his blog and non-fiction book he is currently writing.
  • Matto Frasen writes for a Dutch Linux Magazine who shared his use of Git with ikiwiki to control his website.
As you see there are some very interesting, and powerful tools at your disposal. Yes, it does take some technical aptitude and this may not be the best option for you. But it is an option you can better understand and make a more informed decision.

Next week I will dig a little deeper into Github, specifically github.io, a place where you too can host your own website. For Free.

Below is a 20 minute TED Talk by Clay Shirky on the power of Git.

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  1. Something that's not pointed out, is that you can have multiple editors working on the project at the same time. And you can track who's made what edits.

    But the coolest thing is you have a history of every change made. Every draft & edit.

    Dropbox and Google Docs has this functionality as well, but it's not as integral to the tool as it is in Git.

  2. Thanks for the input Mike. Yes, using a graphical dif is very empowering. Maybe I should bring in some screen shots.

  3. Would it be useful to have multiple GIT accounts for different stages of the writing? So when you look at the 'blame' tool, you can see what was rough draft, vs, major revisions, vs final editing?

  4. Do you mean create branches? You can have a 1st draft branch, 2nd draft branch, the master branch...etc.