Line Length

Ok, I've stayed off the tech post topic for a while, and now I have a question.

This post follows, to my mind, an earlier one I made about subversion and using version control commits as a way to track productivity. Or at least that's what I was thinking about. There's also been a post about version control on 43 folders, the discussion of which has interested me a bit.

The truth is that I'm not a programer, and most of the stuff I do in side of subversion in my repository is not with anything that's like code. Usually this doesn't matter, because in truth I'm using subversion (SVN) as a backup tool and means to, at least theoretically, work on a project from multiple machines, mostly. Not that I ever work from multiple machines, but it's a comforting thought.

However, as I start to do revisions and edits on projects, and I've gotten on a rhythm of doing SVN commits every couple hundred words as I write fiction, I think I'd like to be able to track the changes I make on an atomic level.

Thankfully this is all built into SVN, and the svn diff command is quite handy. The issue is that, while I write everything in plain text files, I use soft line breaks. So while my writing wraps to the window I'm using, but when I save the file, the only line breaks are at the end of my--sometimes quite long--paragraphs.

In every day use, I find that this isn't a huge problem, but if I'm using a diff tool, or in fact a great deal of command line tools that return results based on line, like say grep. So if I change a comma in one line/paragraph, that's 500 characters long, (the comma that preceded this parenthetical was at character #257, for point of reference,) diff returns the whole paragraph not just the line. Breaking lines would give this command a greater usefullness in this situation.

So my main questions, I guess, are:

  1. How long do I make lines, so that they're a good standard length?
  2. How do I do this so that my files aren't asinine to look at for the unanointed?
  3. I suppose conversely, if I'm crazy for thinking to do this, if you have a better idea for fixing this issue, I'm all ears.

Onward and Upward!

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