How I use Surround SCM: User Options

Today I’m going to do something super exciting, I’m going to walk you through the settings on my User Options dialog.

Wait, please come back. I promise it will be interesting.

Well, at least I promise it’ll be short.

Actually, I can’t even do that. How about this? I’ll keep a running tally of how much time a few setting changes can save you.

For most of the settings I leave things at the default, but there are several settings I like to tweak  just a bit to be more to my liking. First up is single sign-on, which is a less technical way of saying login using Kerberos authentication. Because we are a Microsoft Active Directory shop for user management, I always use single sign-on instead of spending the .7 seconds it takes to type in my username/password. That gives me .7 extra seconds to, uh, do really productive work.

Time saved: .7 seconds

Total time saved: .7 seconds

User Options: General settings


On the Diff/Merge tab you can see how I’ve changed my settings based on the action and file type. Because I do a lot of diffs to see what code has changed, I want the diff operation to return really fast. So I use Araxis Merge, which is written in native code. However, since I’ve used it over many years and really trust the Guiffy merge algorithm, I use that when merging. (Guiffy is written in Java, which can be a little slower to spin up.)

Time saved: 1 second * number of diffs in a day

Total time saved: 1,000,000.7 seconds. (I do a lot of diffs.)

User Options: Diff/Merge settings


I make no secret about it, I’m a Mac guy. To that end I use TextMate ALL the time. It only makes sense that I set it as my default text file editor on the View/Edit File tab.

Time saved: 0 seconds. (An editor is an editor.)

Total time saved: 1,000,000.7   (Luckily I have some breathing room because of the diff savings.)

User Options: View/Edit File settings


Another thing that is not secret is my love of changelists. That’s why I default to using them for all file operations. As an added bonus, I have also checked the setting to auto create directories without prompting on the File Dialog Defaults.

Time saved: .7 more seconds (the time to hit “Yes to All” on directory create)

Total time saved: 1,000,001.4 seconds

User Options: File Dialog Defaults settings


To keep my edit-merge-commit membership card current I always make sure to make files writable by default on the Get Files tab. Other folks, particularly those that have come from a Visual SourceSafe world, never select this option. However, before I was a Mac guy I was a Unix guy, so I like this better.

Time saved: 1 second per file edited and not having to be checked out

Total time saved: 2,000,001.4 seconds  (I edit a lot of files.)

User Options: Get Files settings


The last setting I change is the “Clear list recursively option when selecting a different branch.” Because listing lots of files (like thousands and thousands) can be a time consuming operation AND I have a tendency to bounce around between branches a lot, it is much safer for me to have this checked. If I don’t, sometimes I end up doing a recursive list when I don’t want to and my 2,000,001.4 seconds of time gained from from everything else takes a hit. I mean, I’d be under 2,000,000 seconds saved or so.

Time saved: At least 1.5 seconds

Total time saved: 2,000,002.9 seconds

User Options: Source Tree settings

And that’s the tour of my User Options settings. There’s a bunch of other knobs and dials you can turn to control all kinds of things in Surround SCM that I didn’t cover. My advice, go take a few minutes and try some out. Who knows, maybe it could save you over 555 hours a day just like me.*

* I realize that saving 555 hours in a single 24-hour day doesn’t work out math-wise. However, it would make this post way too long if I explained how Surround SCM bends the space/time continuum. Perhaps next time.

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