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Version Control and Why It's Important

Ever been working on an article, changed something on it, and then saved it accidentally and lost the original version with no way to revert back? This is the case when version control is for you. In this blog we will be quickly going through that version control is and how you can use it to improve your Joomla experience.

Version Control and Why It\'s Important

Version control for your Joomla articles is a great way to keep backups of them so if you accidentally mess an article up, you can revert back to a previous version and restore the changes immediately. Let’s say you’re working on an article and you did a lot of styling to the document and then you accidentally deleted it and clicked the save button without realizing it. In my own case this has happened before when I was creating lots of articles, accidentally pasted the wrong article copy in, and then clicked save and noticed right before it was too late that it was wrong. Before using version control, this meant going and getting a backup of the site and trying to find the old article copy again to restore back to the original. However with versions it’s extremely easy to restore back to a previous copy of the article so if you make it a mistake, it’s not that big of a deal.

What version control does is that every time you click on the “save” button for the article you’re working it, it keeps a snapshot of the content/HTML that was in that article. There is a button below the editor and in the main view of the component that keeps the same article content versioned as well. You click this button and it shows a modal popup of the old versions of the article. You just find the one you’re looking for and click “use” and then it replaces the content with that older version. This can really be a lifesaver if you made a mistake and want to fix it quickly.

The version control plugin/component I’m referring to is called “Simple Content Versioning” made by Fatica Consulting. They provide the plugins for Joomla 1.5-2.5 so you can install them on your current sites. They also provide another plugin called “AutoSave” which keeps snapshots of the article you’re editing at different intervals as you’re editing it so if your browser or computer crashes, you don’t lose everything you’ve just been hard at work on.

You’ll start seeing this a lot with various other programs as well. Apple recently released versioning for many of their core applications in Mac OSX and so did Adobe with the latest Photoshop CS6 release which autosaves your open document for you as well. I predict in the future you’re not going to have to worry so much about clicking the save button constantly otherwise risk losing your work because the computer will be doing it for you all along.

It’s very easy to install and setup this component as well. Just go to this site:

http://www.fatica.net/products/simple-content-versioning.html

Pick either Joomla 1.5 or 1.6/1.7/2.5 for your installation, and then download these files:

  • com_versions
  • plg_content_versioning
  • plg_editors_xtd_versioning
Versions

Install all three of these extensions on your site and don’t forget to enable the two plugins before you start using it. The plg_editors_xtd_versioning plugin puts a little editor button below the WYSIWYG editor window which gives you a modal box display of all versions of the article you’re working on so you can easily revert back to an older version right from this button. However you can also go to the versions component itself and check out all of the articles that have been versioned. You can click inside one of these articles and get access to the HTML/article content that was previously saved.

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