Version control and authenticity

It is important to ensure that different copies or versions of files, files held in different formats or locations, and information that is cross-referenced between files are all subject to version control.

Version control strategy

It can be difficult to locate a correct version or to know how versions differ after some time has elapsed. A version control strategy depends on whether files are used by single or multiple users, in one or multiple locations, and whether versions across users or locations need to be synchronised.

A suitable version control strategy depends on whether files are used by single or multiple users, are in one or multiple locations and whether or not versions across users or locations need to be synchronized or not, so that if information in one location is altered, the related information in other locations is also updated.

Best practice is to:

  • decide how many versions of a file to keep, which versions to keep, for how long and how to organize versions
  • identify milestone versions to keep, e.g. major versions rather than minor versions (keep version 02-00 but not 02-01)
  • uniquely identify different versions of files using a systematic naming convention, such as using version numbers or dates
  • record changes made to a file when a new version is created
  • record relationships between items where needed, for example between code and the data file it is run against; between data file and related documentation or metadata; or between multiple files
  • track the location of files if they are stored in a variety of locations
  • regularly synchronise files in different locations, such as using MS SyncToy software
  • identify a single location for the storage of milestone and master versions

Version control can be done through:

  • the date recorded in the file name or within the file, for example HealthTest-2008-04-06
  • version numbering in the file name, for example HealthTest-00-02 or HealthTest_v2
  • a file history, version control table or notes included within a file, where versions, dates, authors and details of changes to the file are recorded
  • version control facilities within software used
  • using versioning software, e.g. Subversion
  • using file sharing services such as Dropbox or Google Docs
  • controlling rights to file-editing
  • manual merging of entries or edits by multiple users

Version numbering in file names can be through discrete or continuous numbering depending on minor or major revisions.

Example:

File name

Changes to file

Interviewschedule_1.0

Original document

Interviewschedule_1.1

Minor revisions made

Interviewschedule_1.2

Further minor revisions

Interviewschedule_2.0

Substantive changes

Example version control table:

Title: Vision screening tests in Essex nurseries
File Name: VisionScreenResults_00_05
Description: Results data of 120 Vision Screen Tests carried out in 5 nurseries in Essex during June 2007
Created By: Chris Wilkinson
Maintained By: Sally Watsley
Created: 04/07/2007
Last Modified: 25/11/2007
Based on: VisionScreenDatabaseDesign_02_00
Version Responsible Notes Last amended
00_05 Sally Watsley Version 00_03 and 00_04 compared and merged by SW 25/11/2007
00_04 Vani Yussu Entries checked by VY, independent from SK 17/10/2007
00_03 Steve Knight Entries checked by SK 29/07/2007
00_02 Karin Mills Test results 81-120 entered 05/07/2007
00_01 Karin Mills Test results 1-80 entered 04/07/2007

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