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Subversion 1.5 released

by Mark Levison and Deborah Hartman on Jun 24, 2008 |

Subversion is a mature open source version control system used by many open source projects, including Apache Software Foundation, KDE, GNOME, Free Pascal, GCC, Python, Django, Ruby, and Mono. Its developers have just released version 1.5. Subversion is version control system originally designed to replace CVS, which many felt had important limitations.

Although Subversion did provoke a "branching model" war in some quarters, it also brought significant improvements over CVS, according to some practitioners:

  • Directory and file renaming: restructuring source code tree is easy, without losing version traceability.
  • Checked-out directories are 'clean' (no CVS directories).
  • File caching allows more actions in "disconnected" state.
  • Atomic commits.
  • Log-per-commit.
  • Improved speed.
  • Better handling of BIN (binary) files.
  • A community of active developers.

Subversion can use the HTTP-based WebDAV/DeltaV protocol for network communications, and the Apache web server to provide repository-side network service. This gives Subversion an advantage over CVS in interoperability, and provides various key features for free: authentication, wire compression, and basic repository browsing. However, Subversion also offers a "svnserv" standalone server option using a custom protocol, and can be tunnelled over ssh. And, although it is open source software, commercial support is available.


The Big Picture from the Subversion Developer Intro

Version 1.5 introduces a number of new features, among them:

  • Merge tracking: allows the user to see what changes have been merged and on which branches they have been merged. The goal is to reduce the effort involved in moving changes between branched (i.e. 1.0, 1.1 and main development).
  • Sparse checkouts: allows developers with very large source trees to get only subsets of their code to their machine.
  • Interactive Conflict Resolution: support for conflict resolution in the command line client and api hooks exposing that support for other clients.
  • Changelist support: allows developers to name groups of files as a single changelist. This can be useful when the developer is working on more than one problem at the same time.
  • Enhancements to Copy and Move operations.

A new version the Eclipse plugin for Subversion (Subclipse) has also been released. Other clients include: TortiseSVN (a windows shell extension),  RapidSVN (a rich client) and AnkhSVN (a Visual Studio plugin).

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Bad article. Misleading. by Evgeny Zislis


Checked-out directories are 'clean' (no CVS directories).

This is just plain wrong, there are those pesky ".svn" directories all over the place. So what if they renamed them from CVS to .svn ?


File caching allows more actions in "disconnected" state.

There is no "connected" state in CVS either, and "more actions" does not include checking the file log for example. So it's not really fully working disconnected, like Git does for example.


Sparse checkouts: allows developers with very large source trees to get only subsets of their code to their machine.

This is a misleading description. Developers with very large source trees need to keep their source trees separated in different directories, and subversion always allowed to get just one directory. The new sparse feature allows non-recursive checkout, when you only want part of a directory but not all of it.



This release is a step closer for Subversion towards becoming a true open-source clone of Perforce. Only thing left is a nice GUI.

Additional tools by Carel Lotz

For running Subversion on Windows also consider the tools provided by VisualSVN. There is the free VisualSVNServer for no-pain Svn administration and the commercial VisualSVN Visual Studio.NET plugin.

Re: Bad article. Misleading. by Mark Levison

Evgeny - I'm sorry you find this article mis-leading. The first two items you remark on come straight from the SVN site (or the docs). The final point about sparse checkouts is my own mistakes. After twenty minutes of reading what was on the 1.5 release notes that is what I took it to mean.


As for an open source version of Perforce - I really can't see what its missing. Trust me its not the GUI. I use perforce on daily basis and neither of the Perforce GUIs (P4V or P4WIN) can be considered good. The only thing that saves it for day to day use is the Eclipse plugin. In addition Perforce's powerful mapping capabilities - i.e. the ability for each developer to map the same source tree into entirely different directory structures can make life hell. Often when I start coaching on a project the first thing I have to do is tidy up their client spec.

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