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. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Zoglin, Richard (27 June 2012). "Scandal in the Second City: Two Remarkable Shows From Chicago". Time. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b Hayford, Justin (1 July 2004). "Soft-Pedaling Sherwood". The Chicago Reader. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  4. ^ a b Slocum, Mac (9 July 2012). "A lever is always better than a lone coder". O'Reilly Radar. O'Reilly Media, Inc. Retrieved 7 September 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 (18 February 2010). "Interviews with the Top Finishers of IF Comp 2009". Society for the promotion of adventure games magazine (Interview). Interviewed by Maher, Jimmy. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  7. ^ a b Collins-Sussman, Ben (23 October 2006). "Interview: Google Chicago Engineers" (Interview). Interviewed by Karr, Chris. Gothamist LLC. Archived from the original on 2021-01-18. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  8. ^ Metz, Cade (30 May 2008). "Google defends open source from 'poisonous people'". The Register. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  9. ^ "Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2015". Stack Overflow. Retrieved 2020-09-26.
  10. ^ Fitzpatrick, Brian W. (2015). Debugging teams : better productivity through collaboration. Ben Collins-Sussman. Sebastopol, CA. ISBN 1-4919-3205-8. OCLC 927113051.
  11. ^ a b c "Eastland". National Alliance for Musical Theatre. National Alliance for Musical Theatre. Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  12. ^ a b c "Winesburg, Ohio". National Alliance for Musical Theatre. National Alliance for Musical Theatre. Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  13. ^ Jones, Chris (17 June 2012). "'Eastland' at Lookingglass: Chicago ship disaster no longer an unsung tragedy". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  14. ^ Sava, Oliver (19 June 2012). "Eastland at Lookingglass Theatre Company". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  15. ^ a b Jones, Chris (2 March 2002). "Emotions running high in `Winesburg, Ohio'". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2020-09-06. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  16. ^ Peters, Justin (21 December 2007). "Play Free or Die - Great Web games you don't have to pay for". Slate. Retrieved 14 January 2010.
  17. ^ Bibby, Jay (22 February 2010). "And the winner is... №7". Jay Is Games. Retrieved 2020-09-07.