Ah, the twin pillars of Check In and Check Out, titans in the CAD pantheon and usually in the first breath or two of any conversation about Product Data Management (PDM). Long has this technique been the lynchpin in regulating data integrity for revision controlled items in a multi user environment. Undoing such a core feature seems like utter madness. Yet, it seems the world is changing. Social engineering projects are challenging the classical tenets of revision control, and there is growing sentiment that PDM as it stands today is insufficient for the future. At the center of this changing sentiment, are the branching and merging methodologies widely used in Software Configuration Management (SCM) with rather ubiquitous tools like Git and Subversion. Guess who’s coming to dinner?
Lesson number one in any effort that involves developing or configuring software is determining not just what in the heck you are trying to accomplish but why. What determines the mechanics, why determines the design. This lesson becomes all the more critical at the scale of Enterprise IT, where this task can be rather difficult to get right. Such projects are often challenged with daunting complexity, both from a technical and political perspective. As a consequence, it’s very easy to get lost in the mechanics of what, while the underlying why is lost. Examples are common: delivered systems that just don’t work, needlessly complex processes, new systems which manage to carry forth baggage from old systems, and usability frustrations that make normal humans want to put their fists right through computer hardware. For each of these examples, all too often there’s an architect who will emphatically explain “We have a requirement for that.”