History: Confronting your Past


line client:

This poor function has had all kinds of people stomping through it.  I was the last person to change line 828, which I apparently did in revision 106 of the file.  However, line 829 was last modified by Jeff, and line 830 belongs to Dan.

Best Practice: Don't Actually use the Blame Feature to be Harsh With People About their Mistakes.

Even though this Best Practice box is more about team management than source control, I don't feel like I'm straying too far off topic to offer the following tidbit:

Tim Krauskopf, an early mentor of mine, said many wise things to me, including the following piece of management advice which I have never forgotten:

"Spend more time on credit than on blame, and don't spend very much time on either one."

By now the reason for the silly-sounding name of this feature should be obvious.  If I find a bug on line 832, the Blame feature makes it easy for me to see that it must be Dan's fault!

Note that we here at SourceGear take absolutely no credit or blame for the name of this command.  We took our inspiration for this feature from the blame feature found in the CVS world, popularized by the Bonsai tool from the Mozilla project.  The following screen dump shows this CVS Blame feature in action using the Bonsai installation on www.abisource.com.  I was delighted to discover that the AbiWord layout engine actually still contains some of my code:

Whether you like the name or not, the Blame feature can be awfully handy sometimes.

Looking Ahead
In the next chapter, we'll start talking about branches.

Eric Sink is a software developer at SourceGearwho make source control (aka "version control", "SCM") tools for Windows developers. He founded the AbiWord project and was responsible for much of the original design and implementation. Prior to SourceGear, he was the Project Lead for the browser team at Spyglass (now OpenTV) who built the original versions of the browser you now know as "Internet Explorer". Eric received his B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The title on Eric's business card says "Software Craftsman". You can Eric at

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