The Human Resources department at Eddy B’s company had a bit of problem. With new people being hired every few weeks, the company’s organizational documents – phone list, org chart, seating chart, etc. – needed lots of frequent updates.

The office suite of choice was Microsoft Office 2007 Professional Edition, but for whatever reason, the IT folks installed Microsoft Office 2007 Broken Edition on HR’s workstation. Unlike the Professional Edition, the Broken Edition would intermittently and inexplicitly delete large and important blocks of text when documents were saved. Broken Edition was also a culprit in ensuring that poor spelling, bad grammar, and HAVHING EVERYtHINGS IN AlL CAPPS were the norm.

The folks in IT claimed that the problem existed between the keyboard and the chair, but HR insisted that it was glitchy office software, glitchy workstations, and glitchy servers. They also insisted that the only solution to the problem was a very large and very expensive Human Resources Management Portal sold by a vendor who just happened to send very large and very expensive cookie baskets.

Of course, since the HR department’s budget was largely tied up in their own human resources, the IT department came up with a more frugal solution. Using the freely-available Subversion version control system – and a copious amount of training – they could ensure that no document would be accidently saved on top of another work-around some of the features in Microsoft Office 2007 Broken Edition.

After a whole lot of handholding and a handful of how-to guides, the HR folks seemed to pick up on the system. Though there were still bitten by some of the Microsoft Office 2007 Broken Edition bugs, IT dutifully showed them how to restore previous versions of their organizational documents.

Things seemed to going well, and there were no complaints from HR about “lost” documents anymore. A few months later, word had spread about the wondrous system that HR had, and the accounting department decided they wanted “an SVN”, too. Hoping to use the HR department’s repository as a model for training, the IT department found this.

Interestingly enough, the HR department not only saved versions under the same file name, but also saved versions under different file names. They even a “Previous Versions” directory, which of course, held even more versions of the documents.

I guess that’s what happens when you install a glitchy SVN.