Binary file handling discussion

Jari Aalto jari.aalto at
Fri Nov 3 19:24:14 GMT 2006

Nicholas Allen <allen at> writes:

> The way CVS does it is really bad and it often
> makes mistakes by assuming that all files are text files unless the
> user specifies that they are binary (and often users forget this). So
> CVSs policy is one of data destruction by default and I do not think
> this would be a good idea for bzr!

I understood that a VCS is primary for text files and only secondary
used for binary files
CVS way of assuming text by default is for the typical situation and
explicitly marking other types of files as binary is logical. CVS has
similar list to "bzr ignore", where patterns can be added to the
server to automatically treat certain files as binary. So, the "-kb"
tagging of individual files is quite transparent to the casual users:


I think bzr would benefit from something similar:

        bzr ignore <pattern>
        bzr binary <pattern>

Or some such equivalent.

> Subversion is much better and with its auto property setting feature
> and, in my experience with it at least, it works pretty well. In fact,
> I have not had a problem with it at all so the assumption that
> everything is binary unless otherwise stated seems to be a good
> solution in my opinion.

I can't comment svn, but from the design point of view, the program
should not try to guess anything for the user, so explicit settings
are better than "guessed settings / many defaults" (cf. bzr ignore


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