Best practice for Documents directory: looking for comments on my current setup

Chanoch (Ken) Bloom kbloom at
Mon Apr 20 15:32:09 CEST 2009

On Mon, 2009-04-20 at 11:59 +0530, Rustom Mody wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 2:04 AM, Chanoch (Ken) Bloom <kbloom at>wrote:
> > On Sun, 2009-04-19 at 16:40 +0200, W. Kaplan wrote:
> > > Hi all,
> > >
> > > I just recently started giving version control systems another go. I'm a
> > > humanities grad student and not a programmer, so I assume that my needs
> > > are a little different from those for which these tools were written.
> > > However, the same applies for managing your whole home directory, so I
> > > think this list is a good place to ask for opinions.
> >
> > Keep in mind that if you have merge conflicts in your office files,
> > whether OpenOffice or MS Word, git and other version control systems are
> > much less likely to be able to do something sensible about merging them.
> > The reason we programmers can make it work is because we use text files
> > for everything. (Our source code is text files, our configuration files
> > are text files, our scholarly papers are written in LaTeX...).
> >
> From Odt article on wikipedia:
> A basic OpenDocument file consists of an
> XML<>document that has
> <document> as its root element. OpenDocument files can also take the format
> of a ZIP <> compressed
> archive containing a number of files and directories; these can contain
> binary content and benefit from ZIP's lossless
> compression<>to
> reduce file size. OpenDocument benefits from separation
> of concerns <> by
> separating the content, styles, metadata and application settings into four
> separate XML files.
> Thanks to this push, good-ol MS has moved (unwillingly?) from doc (for which
> your comments above are correct) to docx that is similarly at core xml and
> hence text.
> >
> > I don't expect any other synchronization system can reconcile these
> > files any better though.
> This true today.  And merging XML is not identical to merging program
> sources.  But is much closer to it than arbitrary binry data

Though I've uncompressed .odt files myself to get at the XML inside,
I've never seen one of these in the wild that wasn't ZIP-compressed, so
as far as version control systems are concerned it's still binary data.
(I'm not even sure how the format would keep the four separate XML files
together if they weren't zip compressed, so maybe the Wikipedia article
is wrong or unclear.)


Chanoch (Ken) Bloom. PhD candidate. Linguistic Cognition Laboratory.
Department of Computer Science. Illinois Institute of Technology.

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