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# Frequently Asked Questions

*   **I'm not technical enough to set up Giterary, but I like some of the
features, and the price is right. What can I do?**

    I was once tasked at work with installing up a homebrewed Linux
    distribution. As part of its install process, a single-user mode prompt would
    drop me into an install script. That script began with a note from the author
    that said, "I never promised you a rose garden..." (quoting the [1970 Joe
    South/Lynn Anderson country song "Rose Garden"][rosegarden]) and finished by
    threatening to smash my hard drive platters if I didn't understand something. It
    succeeded at making me both feel incredibly alone and helpless in my task, as
    well as made me feel like I never wanted to ask the author for help. Which I
    think was the desired effect.

    I made this Giterary thing, and my only good measure of success is getting
    people to use it, or want to use it. I don't offer a lot of promises (and I'm a
    terrible gardener), but I do want to be available to help people set this up as
    well as get it so that more people can set it up. As I develop this further, I
    intend to try to make it easier to get Giterary deployed to any operating
    system, anywhere, with its full features enabled (git repository
    synchronization, etc.). However, configuration and installation are hard things,
    even if you have an extremely small list of dependencies.
    Right now it's easiest to install on Linux (as that is what I've been
    developing Giterary on). If you're installing on Linux, there is a *install.sh*
    script will take you through collecting your various bits of configuration
    information, setting up your directory structures, permissions, usernames,
    passwords, and other fun things. See the [[INSTALL|INSTALL documentation]]
    referencing the *install.sh* script for more information. It requires being a
    little bit tech savvy, and a familiarity with Linux-y types of things, but
    nothing insurmountable.

   *(Also, if you're curious, I did get the "No Rose Garden" Linux installed,
   and everything turned out easier than expected. And I learned a few things along
   the way. And so, too, will you, intrepid adventurers!)*

[rosegarden]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Garden_(Lynn_Anderson_song)

*   **Markdown is *okay*, but I like X better. Do you support that?**

    Probably? Is it text-based? Is it easy to edit from an HTML textarea tag?
    Well, there are certainly places to add such things, but there isn't anything
    particularly fancy. For the programmers out there, it's a PHP switch statement,
    that passes off handling to a function that is assumed to return valid HTML.
    However, a lot of work goes into making Markdown-specific editing possible (with
    the addition of annotations, the live Markdown preview, etc.)

*   **Editing with Giterary is pretty lame. Why don't you use a WYSIWIG editor?
Or something I've likely used before?**

    In the same way that text files are hard to screw up, so too is plain text
    editing. There will always be subtleties and intricacies of every file format,
    which I will eventually get wrong if I try to account for them all. And not to
    disparage the writers of WYSIWIG editors, or the users of Giterary, but
    sometimes it's nice to have something familiar and simple, even if it is sort of

    That said, Giterary will try to help with the editing process. It will
    attempt to provide syntax coloring using CodeMirror, but you can toggle this off
    if you so desire. However, in the event of complete Javascript failure (or you
    run NoScript), your browser should be able to render the textarea just fine, and
    **also** be able to preview and commit your changes without need for the
    client-side Javascript. I'm a fan of elegantly degrading web applications.
    You also have the ability to edit outside of the Giterary web interface by
    using an external text editor, and synchronizing using a Git client. In this
    case, Giterary can simply be a navigational and organizational tool for your

*   **I don't understand why I would ever use partitioning. Why would I ever
want to split up my document?**

    Valid question. It's more of a feature for people who, prior to writing in
    Giterary, or prior to sane document management practices, worked only in single,
    monolithic documents (see: one great big Word document, or something like that).
    A feature like that is useful because it lets you split up a larger work into
    smaller, more manageable chunks.

*   **Something broke, and my repository is messed up. Giterary isn't helping at
all. I don't want to start over. Please help.**

    More often than not, an external git client, graphical or otherwise, will be
    able to answer your git repository's quandary better. At very worst, copying
    your working directory out, and cloning from your last known good repository
    state should be sufficient to not lose what is in your working directory.

*  **I put something in my repository that is, um, "sensitive." As in, it needs
to be gone. Really gone.**

    It happens sometimes. Usually, performing a "hard reset" to a commit before
    the sensitive information was in the system is sufficient.


    But sometimes there are things you want to keep that happened *after* the
    sensitive information got into the system. In that case, you have to use git to
    "rewrite history." For this, Github [has a decent article on how to do just

*   **Is Giterary supported on X (X being my operating system or computing
platform of choice)?**

    PHP, being an interpreted language, does not require compilation, and
    therefore, is supported on any platform a PHP interpreter is available (version
    5.3). However, you also need git to be able to run git, and a web server capable
    of serving PHP scripts, and your operating system needs to support the type of
    piping used by the [*proc_open*][proc_open] function in PHP. But other than
    that, pretty platform agnostic, I'd think.

[proc_open]: http://php.net/manual/en/function.proc-open.php

*   **I have a healthy degree of paranoia, does Giterary support file

    Not at the moment, but it's an interesting and precarious feature. For
    instance: you could implement it such that you would have to enter an extra
    password in order to "unlock" a file for editing. However, unless said paranoid
    individual isn't *also* paranoid about their network traffic, it's possible that
    the submission of that password could be intercepted.

    So: it's possible. An extra extension handler, plus perhaps a modified form
    element, and you'd be in business. But it certainly wouldn't be perfect, and
    would play hell with Giterary's diff mechanisms.

*   **What coding conventions were used in the application, if any, you
talentless hack?**

    You can read about some of the [[CONVENTIONS|programming conventions]], if
    you really want, but it's mostly the technical grandstanding and
    pseudo-philosophical ravings of a madman.

*   **What license is Giterary released under?**

    Giterary is licensed under the GNU Public License, version 3. License text
    is (should be) included in your distribution of Giterary.

*   **There already exist industry standard word processing and novel writing
tools, cheaply available, reliable, and better documented than this. Giterary is
destined to fail.**

    Wow. No punches pulled. Also, I didn't see a questionmark. But alright,
    let's dance.

    Consider shovels: levered surfaces with varying shapes and sizes.
    Flat-headed shovels are good for loose material, pointed shovels are good for
    digging into soil or cutting through grass/sod. Snowshovels are specialized and
    great for moving snow, but not much else. You could even say that a post-hole
    digger ({which digs holes for posts}[firefly]) is a type of shovel for removing
    soil in a small, deep, cylindrical area (but probably not good for much else).

    The point is: nobody in the shovel industry, or any person whose profession
    requires moving soil, rocks, snow, or digging posts, will say that an industry
    standard exists against which no other shovel can compete.

    However, the way people use computer software is weird, in a fashion that
    the way people use shovels is not. People agree to use products like Word, or
    Excel, or PowerPoint, or Outlook, or Scrivener, or Photoshop, or Premiere, or
    AutoCad, or Windows, or iOS, etc., because they are marketed with the notion of
    *trust* and *support*. Perception of trust in software far outweighs any set of
    features, performance, or cost, as if people trust something, they'll pay
    *anything* for it. You may pay extra for a metal blade on a shovel or a nicer
    grip, but you'll never buy a shovel because you trust it the way you would

    *Trust* sells, because people don't inherently *trust* their ability to use
    computers. And software companies know this, and design and market their
    software such that that trust is maintained. Companies hold on to proprietary
    file formats for as long as their industry can tolerate it. Schools are sold
    discount copies of hardware and software so that teachers will teach their
    product, and children grow up thinking that a certain product is accepted or
    necessary for a computing task. Universities sell student copies of software
    cheaply to ensure career-bound students are most familiar with a given
    application, and are taught that they are the industry standard tools.

    That said, software is hard to make. Good software even harder. Millions of
    man-years have gone into the various versions of industry-accepted applications,
    and as such, they tend to be better products. But software should be treated as
    tools, not as emotional attachments, and should be evaluated on their

    Giterary tries to fill a niche I think is poorly addressed, or poorly
    architected in other tools. It is simply a mashup of already established
    software, freely available on the web, but I chose that software because it did
    its job, it did it right, and did it in exactly the way I wanted. Settling for a
    tool just because "everyone else uses it" is silly. It should be the right tool
    for the job, based on features, time saved, learning curve, and price point.

    Additionally, Giterary is unique in that it encourages users to put their
    work into files and formats that are **not** beholden to any software license or
    encoding scheme. Giterary *wants* you to use other, better tools, and let
    Giterary handle the stuff that those tools don't. It seems silly to argue
    against the doom of software obscurity by saying that I make it easier to *walk
    away* from Giterary, but that's not really the feature that brings users back.
    It's that you are *allowed to choose*, where otherwise you are not.

    My hope is that as people become more computer literate, and less tolerant
    of their "*industry standard*" tools, they'll realize that sometimes a post-hole
    digger isn't the best for moving snow.


{firefly}: Obligatory Firefly reference, please forgive me.

*   **Does Giterary support X method of authentication? Y method of
authorization? How can I give person A permissions to do this, but not person B?
Can I shout the words "Active Directory" three times and be able to log in

    There is only so much I can do to predict what people will use Giterary for,
    or who the will want to be able to use Giterary. If you or your organization
    require complex rules to determine who can do what and where and when in
    Giterary, you might be looking for a Content Management System (such as
    [Wordpress][wordpress], [Drupal][drupal], etc.), which solves this problem much
    more elegantly.

[wordpress]: http://wordpress.org/
[drupal]: http://drupal.org

    That said, Giterary's barrier to entry on creating new but only slightly
    different things for authentication and authorization is pretty low. If you can
    easily solve a problem with a single PHP class, then it's pretty easy to wire
    up. It is also fashioned such that you can easily have multiple "registered"
    things that can tell you if you're allowed/not allowed to do something, keeping
    from making your dependence on one and only one "thing" to answer all questions.
    It asks all of its registered things if you can do something until either if
    runs out of things, or gets an "affirmative" answer.

*   **What the heck is this gibberish you turned my passwords into? And why,
uhm... why does it still work?**

    These are password "hashes," or, algorithmically generated values that are
    hard to guess their original value. These enable Giterary to answer "Does this
    person have the right password?" without ever having to store their password.
    Giterary does this by taking the same hashing algorithm as was used in your
    password, and performing the hashing on your submitted login password. If the
    resulting hash matches the stored hash, the passwords match, and you can
    successfully log in.

    [[INSTALL|The install documentation]] has an in-depth description of these,
    how to generate them, and how to enter them into your *passfile.csv*.