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Project Plans, and Reducing Conflicts – Part 1

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Now that many teams are using project plans, some are reporting having more merge conflicts than usual.  This article is the first in a series that will discuss what causes merge conflicts and how to reduce the number of conflicts a team is having. First, let’s look at what causes merge conflicts.

What Set of Circumstances can Lead to Merge Conflicts?

Understanding what causes merge conflicts is key to preventing them. The Paratext Help describes when merge conflicts occur:

A Send/Receive merge conflict for a project occurs when the project copy being received and the project copy being sent from your computer contain a different change in the same verse.

A merge conflict usually occurs when:

  1. More than one person edits the same verse without both people doing a Send/Receive, or;
  2. When one person edits the same verse on two computers without doing a Send/Receive on both computers.

Thinking about this a bit more we see that merge conflicts have two components 1) more than one person/computer editing the same verse, and 2) Send-and-Receive.
Since assignments are given by chapter, two people can edit the same chapter safely under the following circumstances:

  1. The first team member makes changes to the chapter
    • marks the task complete in the Assignments and Progress window
    • and does a Send/Receive
  2. The second team member does a Send/Receive and sees he/she has a new task to do
    • completes that task
    • marks the task complete in the Assignments and Progress window
    • does a Send/Receive

Sometimes an analogy is helpful. Not doing a Send-and-Receive after a marking a task complete, is like putting your rent payment into an envelope and forgetting to give it to your landlord.  The task is not actually complete until the landlord receives the envelope!

It is common for a translator to have more than one task on his/her to do list at any one time, so the above procedure is a bit of a simplification.  However, if translators make it a habit to both mark tasks complete and do a Send-and-Receive after finishing their work, it will go a long way in reducing conflicts.  Remember the project plan in Paratext can manage editing permissions.  It does not control or automate Send-and-Receives in any way.

Preview

In coming articles we will discuss how Send/Receive works and how to do it “properly” when using flash drives, the Internet or a local network.  We’ll talk about using the Send/Receive scheduler, and some best practices about when to do Send/Receive.  We’ll explain how to set up a network such as Chorus hub in a translation office where using the internet is expensive or not an available. There will be an article or two about how merge conflicts are more likely when edit permissions are controlled manually, or when doing global tasks such as correcting spelling and harmonizing Biblical terms.  In addition, there are things administrators can do to reduce conflicts by the way they assign tasks.  Working with a project plan does not guarantee that there will be no merge conflicts, but if it is used carefully and thoughtfully, then teams can work more efficiently and have fewer conflicts.