The hard part about a board design as a opposed to a software program is that there is basically just one file,
I know quite a bit about version control, but not much about board or chip design. What are the formats? What are the specific barriers to using existing version control software?
None at all. I use subversion on both my Arduino directory and my eagle directory. With a large project, or with multiple people, I would likely put one project with both hardware and software branches into one or two repositories, but just maintaining control of the Arduino and eagle directories works for my personal stuff (where I'm mostly concerned with having my various machines at work and at home synced up, less so with the revision history).-j
Does anybode know how the internals of the open source schematic & layout projects gEDA/PCB (http://www.geda.seul.org/) would allow file versioning?
Schematic files are pure ASCII and will always be pure ASCII. gEDA does not support any binary file formats. The file format for schematics is described in the gEDA file formats document.
could you elaborate on svn with eagle usage? My guess is, when you do an update, schematics and board layouts will be replaced as a whole, as they are binary files.