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REVIEW: "Software Configuration Management Using Vesta", Allan Heydon et al

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKSWCMUV.RVW 20060514 Software Configuration Management Using Vesta , Allan Heydon et al, 2006, 0-387-00229-4, U$59.95 %A Allan Heydon %A Roy Levin
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2006
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      BKSWCMUV.RVW 20060514

      "Software Configuration Management Using Vesta", Allan Heydon et al,
      2006, 0-387-00229-4, U$59.95
      %A Allan Heydon
      %A Roy Levin roy@...
      %A Timothy Mann
      %A Yuan Yu
      %C 233 Spring St., New York, NY 10013
      %D 2006
      %G 0-387-00229-4
      %I Springer-Verlag
      %O U$59.95 212-460-1500 800-777-4643 matthew.giannotti@...
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0387002294/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0387002294/robsladesin03-20
      %O Audience s Tech 3 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
      %P 262 p.
      %T "Software Configuration Management Using Vesta"

      The preface tells us that Vesta is a system for version and build
      control suitable for projects of all sizes, from the small, to those
      large and distributed to such an extent that the standard software
      management tools are inadequate.

      Part one provides a general description of Vesta. Chapter one is an
      introduction, both to the common versioning (and related debugging and
      testing) problems, and to the principles of Vesta: versioning of
      source code and tools (with automated handling of relevant object
      code), "immortal" storage of all versions, and storage of complete
      system model descriptions of all builds and options used in
      compilation. ("Sources," in Vesta, are not limited to source code:
      tools introduced into the system are treated in similar ways. In
      addition, immortality is limited to source code: when a derived
      entity; one that is built or compiled; is unused for some period it
      may be weeded.) Various development related concepts from UNIX are
      listed in chapter two. The reason for this is not completely clear,
      but some of the ideas are used in chapter three, which describes Vesta
      at an abstract level.

      Part two outlines the view of a Vesta user: the perspective of the
      programmer or developer. Chapter four reviews the management of
      versions and sources. The notion of a name space is similar to the
      UNIX file system or the Internet's domain name system (which it
      partially uses), with additional linking and restrictions on reuse.
      There is no specific support for merging of changes, in Vesta, but the
      tools can be modified to call for a merge utility from another source.
      Chapter five outlines the System Description Language (SDL), a
      scripting language for specifying "building" in Vesta. An example of
      the use of the language is given in chapter six.

      Part three looks inside Vesta. Chapter seven examines internal
      operations of the repository. The Vesta evaluator is essentially
      responsible for compilation of the software project: chapter eight
      reviews the characteristics that allow it to manage complex
      development efficiently, reusing as much prior material as possible as
      the changes are made incrementally. The weeder attempts to deal with
      the issue of a system that can expand forever on a finite disk: the
      algorithms for making the balance between keeping too much (running
      out of space) and keeping too little (having too spend to much time
      recreating needed parts) are given in chapter nine.

      Part four allows us to assess Vesta. Chapter ten reviews some
      competing systems: RCS (Revision Control System), CVS (Concurrent
      Versions System, Make, and a few CASE (Computer Aided Software
      Engineering) tools. Performance, in terms of various speeds, memory
      loads, and storage requirements, are examined in chapter eleven. The
      data is, unfortunately, not from recent projects that used the system,
      but does show that Vesta convincingly outperforms Make, even for
      relatively small projects. (Suggestions are also given for
      enhancements to improve the system even further.) The conclusion, in
      chapter twelve, repeats much of the material in the preface.

      An appendix provides a reference manual for the SDL. Vesta is
      available as an open source tool at the www.vestasys.org Web site.

      The authors admit, in chapter twelve, that there would be a learning
      curve involved in persuading developers to use the Vesta programming
      environment: Vesta does work in ways that would, initially, be
      mysterious to coders familiar with the currently popular tools. In
      addition, there would be some overhead involved in teaching
      programmers to use SDL. (On the other hand, new programmers would
      probably take to it quite readily.)

      The book is intended as a research report rather than a user manual
      (although part two can be used to get started with the system). Much
      of the material concentrates on the internals of the system, and the
      aspects that assist in the excellent performance: these operations
      will never be seen by the user, although the system response will be
      satisfying. The authors have made no attempt to understand the
      information (and writing style) that would be helpful to developers
      attempting to use the system, and managers trying to decide whether or
      not to implement it. Open source devotees wanting to understand and
      extend the project will find this an invaluable resource. Researchers
      in the fields of software development and system performance will also
      find much of interest in these pages.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2006 BKSWCMUV.RVW 20060514

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