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Thread: Version control or Jeez I wish I hadn't done that !!

  1. #1

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    Version control or Jeez I wish I hadn't done that !!

    A few days ago I opened an image in Photoshop and ... it just didn't look right, not at all how I'd remembered it. I was pretty sure there were about half a dozen adjustment layers missing and thinking back I seemed to remember that I'd imported them into a group and ... well I guess I'd deleted the group before saving the image. Really wish I hadn't done that !!
    Then I got to thinking that it would be nice to have the last version, I haven't backed up my files for a week or so which made that route a non starter but then, a lightbulb moment. I use revision control for any software/web site stuff that I write, in fact I use Tortoisesvn a friendly (as in not totally hostile) user interface for Subversion version control software. A day or so playing around and going down blind alleys that turned out to be processor and disk killingly inadvisable and I now have a working system ... of sorts. It puts a detour in my workflow, something else to remember and it's not exactly fast but it works and tonight I compared the latest version of an image with one from three versions ago to see if my post processing was going down the right avenue. (it seems it was by the way). The latest version and the previous version both opened up in Photoshop for me to compare - pretty sweet I thought.
    It's a process that's not exactly intuitive, a little time consuming but well worth pursuing. For example I sometimes post process an image and in the past I've saved checkpoints as seperate files on disk; unweildy unless you follow a naming convention (I don't) and great for cluttering up your disk and making a mess of your thumbnails in Lightroom. Then at some point you may branch off and go down the black and white route which invariably leaves you with even more files etc. Not to mention the one occasion where I reduced the size of an image for posting on the web and then overwrote the damn psd file with it.
    Version control stores all your modifications and branches in one place with a description of what modifications you have made (ok you have to write the description yourself but ..), you can back off to any point you want at any time you want and so to me it seems like a no brainer - make a mistake, lose something then ok, not a huge problem, go get a previous version.
    The way I've implemented seems a bit slow and a bit cumbersome (due to the large size of some of the .psd files) but really useful. I've since discovered a product called Timeline which is a Photoshop plugin that interfaces to Subversion seamlessly and looks pretty cool - 100 dollars US though which personally stings a little so I won't be going there until I've got more disposable.
    So, version control, anybody out there using it, anybody using Timeline in fact ? If so what are you using and how's it working out for you

  2. #2
    herbert's Avatar
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    Alex

    Re: Version control or Jeez I wish I hadn't done that !!

    Hi Paul,

    I do not see the need for version control in my workflow.

    I keep my raw file and I have raw edits saved in the Lightroom catalogue and in XMP files.

    Any work I do in photoshop is as layers. I can turn them on and off to see how things have progressed.

    Keeping photoshop layers is not as storage efficient as flattening the image. However it will be more efficient than keeping several intermediate images in a version control system (unless it has a binary diff function for smaller incremental versions). Extra backup can be done by using new filenames for the image when it has progressed a lot.

    Using a VCS seems like a lot of extra infrastructure without sufficient benefits for my workflow.

    Alex

  3. #3

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    Re: Version control or Jeez I wish I hadn't done that !!

    There is a principle that hopefully with time we gain experience and competence so it makes sense to retain a copy of the original file in its untouched state. Though I guess it does save time to save the file with adjustment layers but only rarely have I gone back and changed an edit saved this way ... preferring to start afresh ... perhaps not a commercial way to go

  4. #4

    Join Date
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    Re: Version control or Jeez I wish I hadn't done that !!

    I suppose it depends on your workflow. Me, I do little if anything in Lightroom but open RAW files directly as smart objects in Photoshop. Just suits me to work that way I suppose. In Photoshop I tend to do a lot of small adjustments non destructively with layers and at some point I layer merge where further edits start to become destructive and a pain to back out of. This is the point where I find version control useful, the ability to go back a few versions and try a different track without losing what's been done already. Also by the time I get to flatten the image I'm usually most of the way there as far as post processing goes and for me it's proving useful to version control at this point. This is something new for me (in Photoshop anyhow) and it's taking a bit of thought to create versions in a slightly different manner than I did as a programmer. The wrinkles are getting ironed out and I'm finding it really useful for some images.
    The commercial option at 100 $ is certainly not the way to go for me anyhow

    Alex
    I'm probably not making the most of Lightroom, using it only as a catalogue in fact.
    Apparently subversion does use a binary diff although there seems to be some debate about this on the web in spite of what it sais on the Subversion site.

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