Where am I going with all this? The company for which I work has a policy of buy over build which was served them well for the last 10 years. They've kept their IT costs down while still getting applications deployed for their internal customers. The vendor was trying to write applications it could turn around and sell to other companies in the same market and my employers got a discount on the work; everyone was happy. This arrangement went south when the development partner decided to get out of the business of writing and selling software. They parted ways without rancor but now my company is left with application code for which they have no experience in managing. That's where I come in, to help them with managing software, to advise them when vendors try to close a sale with marketing smoke and mirrors, and to detect when those vendors could be hiding important details about their product or service.
So, I ask for the code and am given a large ZIP file, I kid you not. Evidently the off-shore group of the development shop used by the vendor uses Visual Source Safe locally but it isn't used by anyone here in my office. That led to another nightmare when I researched how code was deployed to production but I'll save that story for another time. I've used VSS before but since most of the code is Java and we're not using Visual Studio, it didn't make sense to use VSS. After poking around on the Internet, I found some really good reasons not to use VSS. Evidence about corrupted databases, well documented issues, and stories from the trenches made it easy to decide to use some other tool.
My first thought was to install Subversion so I downloaded it at home and started learning how to manage a repository. Someone at work mentions a new VCS called 'Git' which is fairly new on the scene, so when I checked it out (there I go again) and at first figured we didn't need the multiple author patch model, where a change has an author and a submitter which is useful for accepting patches through email. After more thought the realization came that the strength of the tools like PVCS or IBM's Rational Clearcase were that they understood branches even if you didn't use them all that much. Subversion doesn't have a great track record with branching. Since the budget was tight that means sticking to free products which came down to Subversion or Git. I'm leaning towards Git.
Off into the wild blue yonder I go. If anyone has stories and/or advice on setting up a VCS for the first time, I'm all ears.