Getting rid of the 'File' Concept for Source Code?

Frans writes: After the recent sourcecode control debate I started thinking: why on earth are we still using the 'file' as the base unit to store sourcecode in? The whole 'file' concept is pretty bad and limiting when it comes to sourcecode control, code reuse and overall code management. Much better would it be if we could work with a code repository as the container for our sourcecode which would work with sourcecode elements like we know, e.g.: namespaces, classes, assemblies, resource objects etc. etc.

Well, I must admit that I'm torn back and forth.

  • I agree that moving away from files could lead to interesting developments, maybe even getting rid of the text-only nature of source code. I'm not only speaking about (gimmicky?) features like photos and drawings inside source code. It's also about getting rid of the need to "serialize" every bit of meta information into stone age raw text.
  • On the other hand, it's just too easy to write or at least use lots of nice little tools outside the IDE that work exactly because of the concept of source code being a bunch of files. And then there's the fear to lose the many workarounds possible with files if things don't work like they should. In case your IDE just won't let you do anything after installing some other software, at least you can copy your source files to some other place and continue your work.

I honestly don't know. I just can't decide what is better. Maybe it's just the fear to put source "into something I cannot look into using Notepad". Maybe I'm already too traditional. But then I remember the first time I had to trust a new thing called clipboard that text I would "cut" would re-appear using "paste"... so maybe it's time for a different approach.

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