automated/assisted merging of XML files

C. Michael Pilato cmpilato at
Wed Oct 11 12:06:14 CDT 2006

Patrice Chalin wrote:
> Hi,
> Using the automated merge capabilities of CVS can corrupt XML files.  I
> noticed that you maintain the DocBook source for the SVN book under Trac
> using SVN, hence you must have run into this problem of mering XML
> files.  How do you handle automated/assisted merging of XML files?  Do
> you use a tool like Harmony <>?

XML file corruption certainly can occur when the internal diff libraries
employed by CVS or Subversion are unable to accurately find the proper
location in the file to apply changes (typically due to ambiguity in the
context regions).  But most of our XML (at least in the English version
of the book) is structured without much ambiguous context.  Rather than
the likes of:

        Some stuff.

where, as you can see, the typical three lines of context around a
paragraph are as generic as you can get, we've got pretty unique-looking
lines like:

  <chapter id="svn.intro">
    <sect1 id="svn.intro.whatis">
      <para>Some stuff.</para>
    <sect1 id="svn.intro.history">

So, quite a bit more in the way of unique lines than the typical
deep-nested XML structure.  As a result, I've never seen a problem with
merge issues in this book project.

C. Michael Pilato <cmpilato at>

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting.  It has
 been found difficult; and left untried."  -- G. K. Chesterton

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