Chicken, The

Full Glossary →

The Chicken…how to explain? Surprisingly, this term is NOT a Waxcreative invention*. The Chicken is an important safeguard when dealing with version control. Google drives and WordPress user control eliminates a lot of Chicken issues now, but other than those types of situations, if two people are working on the same file at the same time, one will inadvertently overwrite the other. That’s Bad. If a file is downloaded from the server and worked on locally, it should be clear to the rest of the team (that includes the client if it’s a feedback doc such as Discovery or Alpha) that the file on the server has been “checked out.” Whomever has the file has The Chicken. If someone else wants into a Chicken-held file, they have to wait.

*Yes, there is a story behind this. It goes back to the early days of Macromedia (long before Adobe ate them up and executed FreeHand, but that is a different Sad Tale), before Dreamweaver had any sort of Check-In Check-Out functionality, and before software devoted to version control existed. Nobody telecommuted then, so all the engineers, designers, project managers — everyone who worked together was in ear- or eye-shot (or at least on the short walk to the office fridge). There was an actual rubber chicken — we kid you not — and whomever had the file would have that chicken at their desk, sometimes hanging for everyone to see from the coat-hook at their cubicle. “Who has The Chicken?” was heard several times a day. “I need The Chicken!” “How much longer will you need The Chicken?” Once done with the file, the rubber chicken was passed (sometimes tossed). So originally, the chicken simply indicated who had control of the latest version of the file. After a while, the latest version was simply called The Chicken.

We use this term a lot in the Wax studio. And on one of the corkboards is a wee rubber chicken on a keychain, though we never throw it… anymore.