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Mac OS ‘Lion’ introduced a version control system with a fancy user interface called Versions. I’m slowly getting used to working with it and find it quite powerful.

I have found out how to share the master (head/current) version (revision), and one specific version with another Mac. But how do I share the whole version three including all revisions with another Mac?

Using, for example, TextEdit.

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Remote screen sharing seems to be the only way for another mac to seamlessly use the same revision store. –  bmike Jul 29 '11 at 23:18

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

One person sharing two or more Macs, all running Lion

Method A: physical share of a disk

For your file to be versioned, save first to removable media with a file system that supports permanent version storage. Save all versions of the file to that volume.

Eject/unmount the volume. Use the volume with other Macs running Lion.

Examples:

  • a USB flash drive using MS-DOS (FAT) lacks support
  • a USB flash drive using JHFS+ does support permanent version storage.

screenshot of Mac OS X Extended (Journaled) selected in a menu in Disk Utility

Method B: electronic file share of a disk image

In a directory that is shared using Apple Filing Protocol (or any other appropriate distributed file system), create a disk image, maybe a sparse bundle. Choose a format — a file system — that supports permanent version storage.

screenshot of sparse bundle disk image selected in a menu in Disk Utility

Open the image.

For your file to be versioned, save first to the volume that is imaged. Save all versions of the file to that volume.

Eject/unmount the volume.

At another Mac running Lion:

  • connect to the file server
  • open the image.

Hints

The Secrets preference pane can help you to enable advanced image options in Disk Utility.

An image of a volume may be not reliably backed up whilst the volume is attached/mounted. For reliability, unmount/eject the volume before backing up.

Multiple users

Either method A or B will work, but both require negotiation between humans :-)

Method C

For each version that you wish to share, use the Duplicate command then save a separate file.

The downside of this traditional approach is separation. Users of other Macs (not necessarily running Lion) might take a Cover Flow view of the files, but that's not as neat as a versions browser view of a single file.

AFP, Apple versions and security/privacy

You might wonder why saving to an Apple-oriented file service, for example a service using Apple Filing Protocol, does not save Apple versions on the server. Think: privacy, security.

Example

Someone in Government saves a file that describes the true state of the economy, a state that is terrible. The person changes the file to present a different truth, a truth that will keep the lions at bay, saves his or her changes.

When ready to share, the author puts the one file on an AFP server.

Other users of the server open the file in any application that supports Apple versions. They see only one version, the most recent.

We (other users) might wish to see all versions of a file — including versions that were not intended for sharing — but for Mac OS X 10.7 (Build 11A511) the sanest default is:

  • share nothing other than the most recent version.
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I had not considered saving the document to a network drive, but as that option wouldn’t have worked I have to go with something else. The disk image option seem like the best way remaining. I had hoped for an easier way, but Apple consumers are apparently only intended to own one Mac. –  Aeyoun Aug 10 '11 at 13:33
    
@Daniel thanks for the tick. I imagine approaches to versioning that are alternative/complementary to what Apple has chosen for Build 11A511, but I believe that Apple's approach is least troublesome. Depending on how often your workflow requires versions: I also like the comment from bmike (sharing the screen instead of sharing files); also consider a file format that supports versioning independent of Apple's implementation. Example: NeoOffice 3.2.1 Beta Patch 0 allows the user to disable support for Apple versions, falling back to versions that are compatible with LibreOffice et cetera. –  Graham Perrin Aug 10 '11 at 19:28

According to Ars Technica's Lion review, revisions are stored at /.DocumentRevisions-V100. You might be able to share this with another machine, though it sounds like it's pretty tied to your particular filesystem — and I doubt there's an easy way to share only a single file's revisions.

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What's with the downvote and no feedback? The directory is legit, this might not be a 100% answer, but it seems to be a step in the right direction. +1 from me ;-) –  Bennett Dill Jul 31 '11 at 6:01
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Run ls -@ld /.DocumentRevisions-V100 to see that the directory is owned by root with restricted access. Do not attempt to share, or remove those restrictions. Also for reference: Data related to Apple versions is sometimes not limited to /.DocumentRevisions-V100 –  Graham Perrin Aug 8 '11 at 19:46
    
PS @Ben (commenter) and poster: the vote down, if any, wasn't from me. Alongside etiquette, I see nothing extreme about the answer. It's a no vote from me because of the notion of sharing one thing (a directory) that is restricted access. Defocusing from auto save, versions and resume: there are nearly always very good reasons — albeit not immediately obvious — for hiding (e.g. user Library usually hidden from Finder); for restricting access; and so on. –  Graham Perrin Aug 9 '11 at 8:38

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