Ben Collins-Sussman

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Ben Collins-Sussman in 2014

Ben Collins-Sussman is an American software engineer, composer, and author.[1] He is the co-creator of the Subversion version control system, co-composer of the musicals Eastland,[2] and Winesburg, Ohio,[3] and co-author of two books on software and management.[4][5] He co-created two interactive fiction games, Rover's Day Out and Hoosegow.[6] Collins-Sussman lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.[7]


Collins-Sussman is one of the founding software engineers of the Subversion version control system,[8] which was used by 36.9% of developers in the 2015 Stack Overflow Developer Survey.[9] Collins-Sussman co-founded the Google Chicago engineering office in 2005,[7] which employed more than 300 engineers as of 2019.[1] He is a senior engineering manager leading a team focused on the latency of Google's search engine.[1]


Collins-Sussman is the co-author of the book Version Control with Subversion along with C. Michael Pilato and Brian Fitzpatrick, published by O'Reilly Media in 2009.[5] Collins-Sussman and Fitzpatrick co-authored Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration,[10] about managing software development teams, published by O'Reilly Media in 2015.[4]

Musical compositions[edit]

In collaboration with Andre Pluess, Collins-Sussman co-composed the music for two musicals, Eastland and Winesburg, Ohio.[11][12]


Eastland is a musical telling the story of a 1915 disaster in which the passenger ship SS Eastland capsized while moored in the Chicago River, killing 844 people.[2] The musical opened in June 2012 and ran for 9 weeks.[11] It was produced by the Tony Award-winning Lookingglass Theatre Company and was nominated for four Joseph Jefferson awards.[11]

The reviewer for Time magazine, Richard Zoglin, wrote, "The elegiac mood, a sense of hard-working, turn-of-the-century Americans betrayed by the American dream, is heightened by the somber, folk-ballad flavor of the music — much of it played (on guitars and violins mostly) onstage by members of the cast."[2] The Chicago Tribune arts reviewer Chris Jones wrote, "Pluess and [Collins-Sussman] are richly talented songwriters [...] whose rootsy melodies understand the musical language of the ordinary Midwesterner."[13] The Chicago Time Out reviewer, Oliver Sava, wrote that the score "evokes O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Ragtime, though the lyrics can get heavy-handed."[14]

Winesburg, Ohio[edit]

Winesburg, Ohio is a musical adaptation of Sherwood Anderson's novel, Winesburg, Ohio, about a small American town.[15] It was developed by Chicago's About Face Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and produced at Steppenwolf Theatre, Arden Theatre, and Kansas City Repertory Theatre.[12] The Arden Theatre production won five Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theater in 2005.[12]

The Chicago Tribune arts reporter Chris Jones wrote that "one is most struck by the beauty of the vocal music that Pluess and Collins-Sussman] have woven into Anderson's poignant prose."[15] The Chicago Reader reviewer, Justin Hayford, said that "composers Andre Pluess and Ben [Collins-Sussman] create a haunting anthem revealing the town's inner life. It's a stirring opening, intricate in its dark shadings."[3]

Interactive fiction[edit]

Collins-Sussman co-created the interactive fiction title Rover's Day Out with Jack Welch, which in 2009 won the 15th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition, judged by the readership of the Usenet newsgroup[6] Games reviewer Jimmy Maher described it as "an impressively intricate, multi-layered piece of fiction."[6] Welch and Collins-Sussman also co-authored Hoosegow, which won the Casual Gameplay Design Competition #7 by influential game review website[16] Jay Is Games in 2010.[17]


  1. ^ a b c "Crain's Tech 50, 2019: Ben Collins-Sussman, 46". Crain' s Chicago Business. Crain Communications. July 10, 2019. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Zoglin, Richard (June 27, 2012). "Scandal in the Second City: Two Remarkable Shows From Chicago". Time. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Hayford, Justin (July 1, 2004). "Soft-Pedaling Sherwood". The Chicago Reader. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Slocum, Mac (July 9, 2012). "A lever is always better than a lone coder". O'Reilly Radar. O'Reilly Media, Inc. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Pilato, C. Michael.; Collins-Sussman, Ben; Fitzpatrick, Brian (2008). Version control with subversion (2nd ed.). Sebastopol, Calif.: O'Reilly. ISBN 978-0-596-15599-5. OCLC 297574056.
  6. ^ a b c Collins-Sussman, Ben (February 18, 2010). "Interviews with the Top Finishers of IF Comp 2009". Society for the promotion of adventure games magazine (Interview). Interviewed by Maher, Jimmy. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Collins-Sussman, Ben (October 23, 2006). "Interview: Google Chicago Engineers" (Interview). Interviewed by Karr, Chris. Gothamist LLC. Archived from the original on January 18, 2021. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  8. ^ Metz, Cade (May 30, 2008). "Google defends open source from 'poisonous people'". The Register. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  9. ^ "Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2015". Stack Overflow. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  10. ^ Fitzpatrick, Brian W. (2015). Debugging teams : better productivity through collaboration. Ben Collins-Sussman. Sebastopol, CA. ISBN 978-1-4919-3205-6. OCLC 927113051.
  11. ^ a b c "Eastland". National Alliance for Musical Theatre. National Alliance for Musical Theatre. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c "Winesburg, Ohio". National Alliance for Musical Theatre. National Alliance for Musical Theatre. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  13. ^ Jones, Chris (June 17, 2012). "'Eastland' at Lookingglass: Chicago ship disaster no longer an unsung tragedy". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  14. ^ Sava, Oliver (June 19, 2012). "Eastland at Lookingglass Theatre Company". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  15. ^ a b Jones, Chris (March 2, 2002). "Emotions running high in 'Winesburg, Ohio'". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on September 6, 2020. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  16. ^ Peters, Justin (December 21, 2007). "Play Free or Die - Great Web games you don't have to pay for". Slate. Retrieved January 14, 2010.
  17. ^ Bibby, Jay (February 22, 2010). "And the winner is... №7". Jay Is Games. Retrieved September 7, 2020.