I'm looking for a user friendly revision control system that both me and my non technical wife can work with. I've tried subversion and perforce but found them to be over complicated and some things couldn't be done via the GUI. It would only be used on windows clients and only on a local network. I would like to store the main repository on my windows home server. Free would be best but a reasonable price for consumer use would also be fine if it was good software. Thanks in advance.

Edit: I'm getting a lot of solutions that aren't suitable and I think this is because I wasn't clear in my opening post. The main reason I would like to use the tool is for software source control management (but also for binary files e.g. Word and Excel files as well), so it'll need to support things like branching, merging and release management. While I'll be the main user, the wife will also need to use the tool but she is non-technical. However, she is computer literate and can work her way around a user friendly piece of software.

The main problem I found with subversion and Perforce was that there were a few locations when paths needed to be entered for locations within the source repository. A simple GUI browsing to the locations would have been perfect but those specific areas required the user to manually enter the path in a text box with little confirmation whether it was valid or not.

As you can see, file synchronisation software like Dropbox is unsuitable for this even if it supports file versioning.

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    Could you elaborate on why Subversion wasn't workable? Did you use the TortoiseSVN application which hooks into File Explorer? – Gary Rowe May 7 '11 at 11:33
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    It might help also if you'd provide info on what kinds of files you will be putting in revision control. Some of the more popular ones like Git and Mercurial, for example, work best with text files and not so much with binary ones (image files, etc.). – Isxek May 7 '11 at 12:23
  • You want a non-technical user to use a revision control software with branching and merging? Most technical users are afraid of performing those actions! Your best option is probably to use two systems, one for advanced branching/merging with your source code, the other something simple like Dropbox with Excel and Word documents. – Daniel Beck May 9 '11 at 15:23

You said you tried subversion, but did you ever try Tortoise SVN? It works as a shell extension and your repository can be anywhere (including locally in a directory).

It's fairly intuitive (a lot more than command line subversion). I'm not sure if the internal "diff" utility would work with things like word processor documents, but I'm sure that info is available somewhere.

  • Yes, that's what I used Subversion for. – user80176 May 9 '11 at 9:04
  • Tortoise SVN is exactly what I used with subversion and felt this was still not user friendly enough for what I needed. While most of it was ok, there were a few key features which required manual text entry instead of giving a nice GUI (e.g. entering the path of repositories). – user80176 May 9 '11 at 9:12
  • @user80176 You've been spoiled by Windows, as many people still use SVN from a prompt :) I can totally understand what you mean, though. I think once you type in the URL the first time, it becomes part of the dropdown list. – jonsca May 9 '11 at 9:43

What about Dropbox? It uses a system of folder synchronising, but they also stores a copy on their own servers. It seems to be very easy to use.

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    Sorry but this is just folder synchronisation. I'm looking for a revision control system. A revision control system would store every change to a file and allow you to add notes against each edit. Similar to what is used in software development but I'm looking for a user friendly version to the things I've mentioned in the opening post. – user80176 May 7 '11 at 11:25
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    @user80176 - It's not just folder synchronization. You can right-click on a file and retrieve a previous version. – Kit Sunde May 7 '11 at 13:36
  • @User Depending on what you intend to do, you can use Dropbox and write a work log by hand, unrelated (e.g. Outlook or other task management). That way you can still look up what you did when. – Daniel Beck May 7 '11 at 14:38
  • Dropbox also has the ability to rollback an earlier version of a file. – Wuffers May 7 '11 at 16:30
  • Because I'll be using this for software source control management, dropbox is not suitable for this. – user80176 May 9 '11 at 14:02

You may want to look at Git along with SmartGit both open source and the SmartGit UI is easy.

  • SmartGit seems like it could fit the bill. I'll have to give that a try. Thanks. – user80176 May 9 '11 at 9:14

Do you know about Shadow Copy? It's built into Windows.

  • Sorry, this would be unsuitable for what I need it for. I've edited the opening post it make it clearer. – user80176 May 9 '11 at 9:14

Have you looked into FileHamster? I've used it before and it's pretty easy to figure out.

  • Sorry, this would be unsuitable for what I need it for. I've edited the opening post it make it clearer. – user80176 May 9 '11 at 9:15

I do the same thing you're looking to do, and I also have to deal w/ a non-technical wife. And, I too needed revision history.

Along the lines of Dropbox, have you looked Wuala (from La Cie)? Check out their service. http://www.wuala.com. I've used SugarSync and Dropbox (I only used Windows PCs), but I've found Wuala to be the easiest to use. It has a nice Windows UI, it has revision control, it syncs across all computers, it has smartphone apps, etc. Check it out and see if it's what you're looking for.

That said, there is a fee, but you can control that based on how much you need to backup.

(NOTE: I have no relationship with Wuala, other than being a customer, and do not benefit in any way by mentioning the service here.)

  • Sorry, this would be unsuitable for what I need it for. I've edited the opening post it make it clearer. – user80176 May 9 '11 at 9:18

Bazaar is by far the easiest SVN system available, IF you really need version control. It lacks a lot of the finer control of other systems like GIT, but it in comparison, it is much more user friendly. You can be up an running in no time (five minutes according to this tutorial).

If you are wanting version control for simple documents (like Word and Excel) then you should just use Google Docs. No setup required, no SVN checkout required, no technical background required. You and your wife can edit the same document at the same time and see each others changes instantly. Doesn't get easier than that.

  • I'm afraid bazaar is also by far the slowest one. – vtest May 9 '11 at 14:03
  • @vtest I have never done any speed comparisons between Bazaar and other SVNs, but it has never seemed slow to me. I used it during an IT conference about a month ago with 20 simultaneous and we had no issues at all, plus our central repository was about 200 miles away (i.e. not local). – ubiquibacon May 9 '11 at 23:02

Mercurial is relatively easy to understand. It's GPLv2 and has a few extensions.

  • Can you please add some more explanation about Mercurial, this technical summary seems little explanatory for the OP's non-technical demands. – Pylsa May 9 '11 at 20:33

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