I hear lots of stories about how designers and developers can’t get along. Personally, I don’t get it. I love our web designers. They do something I can’t. I don’t do pretty. I can design a user interface and make it functional, but that’s not enough. Our designers can turn that around and make it gorgeous. We complement each other, and I try to take care of them whenever I can.
So when we made the leap from self-hosted Subversion to Kiln-hosted Mercurial, I wanted to better integrate our designers in the development process. I wanted them to have the same advantages of version control that I, as a developer, was accustomed to. And I really wanted to put an end to opening directories and finding “default.aspx”, “default - Copy.aspx”, “default - Copy (2).aspx”, etc.
The problem with Mercurial is that it doesn’t work too well for web designers that don’t have a locally hosted webserver on their workstation. When testing a bunch of CSS changes, an “edit, save, commit, push, refresh, check, repeat as necessary” workflow does not work. Designers need to be able to modify files on a shared design webserver where they can preview their changes immediately and then commit when done with a task.
Additionally, the designers only need access to the website directory, and attempting to do a 3-way merge makes them run for the hills. And why wouldn’t it - I don’t even enjoy that.
So like most developers, I figured there must be a way I can fix this problem with software.