White paper

Perforce white paper: The State of SCM

Portfolio_Perforce State of SCM cover

Here’s a piece I penned for Perforce Software, “The State of SCM in 2012.” Executive summary:

“As the latest research on SCM suggests, developers are struggling with latency, far-flung-teams, ad-hoc workflows, administrative overhead, and integration nightmares. Find out how these factors are undermining developer productivity and performance, and how the SCM field is evolving to address these critical issues.”

And how’s about this intro? Punchy if I do say so myself:

“Waiting. It’s the last thing developers want to do as they access branches, merge their changes into the codebase or see if the latest build passes all tests. Make a developer wait to use a tool, and you’ll soon find that tool tossed aside.”

One thing I’ve never forgotten from my decade in magazines is this concept that the reader needs multiple points of entry on every page. No one reads start to finish. We all scan. Create opportunities for fast transmission of ideas and to hook the reader’s curiosity. On the flip side, avoid visual confusion. Make sure the pages and the piece as a whole is cohesive. I’m particularly fond of snappy sidebars, and this piece has a few, like this one:

Six SCM life hacks

Innovative tools take versioning into new territory. Modern SCM can lighten the load by:

  • Balancing the needs of individuals, teams and IT with flexibility and independence for developers, collaboration for teams, and fast performance for all.
  • Tracking the status and integrity of many different types of digital assets beyond source code.
  • Letting developers work remotely and off-line, while maintaining a central repository.
  • Instead of discouraging “cowboy coding” — versioning it.
  • Acting as a “force multiplier” for small IT teams, freeing up administrators for other tasks.
  • Guiding development teams toward best practices in agile change management via streams or “branches with brains.”

We reconfigured this a number of ways, as a two-parter, a three-parter, and with different goals for different versions. I’m proud of this work, as it illustrates my approach to whitepapers: highly readable, slightly irrreverent, journalistic and meticulously researched. As it happens, I’m about to do the third version of this, again with a slightly different marketing goal, for Perforce. Each has been highly successful. Should be a fun job!

World Wind Writing Portfolio_Perforce State of SCM Page 5

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