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The Future of Subversion 173

Posted by kdawson
from the had-a-good-run dept.
sciurus0 writes "As the open source version control system Subversion nears its 1.5 release, one of its developers asks, what is the project's future? On the one hand, the number of public Subversion DAV servers is still growing quadratically. On the other hand, open source developers are increasingly switching to distributed version control systems like Git and Mercurial. Is there still a need for centralized version control in some environments, or is Linus Torvalds right that all who use it are 'ugly and stupid'?" The comments on the blog post have high S/N.
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The Future of Subversion

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  • S/N Ratio (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:06PM (#23351224)

    The comments on the blog post have high S/N.
    And posting it here is really going to help!
  • by Wulfstan (180404) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:08PM (#23351268)
    I run the IT systems for my small software company and frankly Subversion is a great tool for the job. I don't *want* a distributed VC system because I don't want the hassle of trying to ensure that everyone's modifications to the code tree are backed up correctly and stored safely somewhere. I want it in a central spot I can back up and manage without my employees having to worry about it.

    Basically Subversion is not suited for development with a diverse population of loosely connected individuals, each with their own private branches. Frankly, for corporate work, I don't understand why you would want the backup and integrity hassles of a distributed version control system. But maybe that's because I'm ugly and stupid :-)
    • by mweather (1089505) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:17PM (#23351426)

      I run the IT systems for my small software company and frankly Subversion is a great tool for the job. I don't *want* a distributed VC system because I don't want the hassle of trying to ensure that everyone's modifications to the code tree are backed up correctly and stored safely somewhere. I want it in a central spot I can back up and manage without my employees having to worry about it.
      You can do that with distributed version control, too and still have the flexibility for alternative work flows.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Wulfstan (180404)
        Errr. I don't see how without jumping through a lot of hoops.

        If I have n users in my software team and they each have a local repository copy and "commits" that they make are made to that local repository then it basically requires me to backup everyone's PC in order to ensure that work is not lost. I don't back up PCs, we have a clear rule that if you want something to be safe it goes on the server.

        Now, sure, I can see that with some effort and mucking about you can ensure that everyone's local repository
        • by maxume (22995) on Friday May 09, 2008 @01:13PM (#23352286)
          A DVCS can still be used to commit to a server.

          The big difference is that a DVCS adds a local workspace. I can check something out from the centralized server(with a DVCS, I pull the server tree to my local tree), mess around, make a branch, see what it does, decide it was stupid and throw the whole thing away, or I can decide it was a good idea and then commit it to the centralized server(by pushing my tree up to the central tree). The only real difference is that a check out is called a pull and a commit is called a push.

          Separating change management from committing to the repository is not necessarily a bad thing. It may be undesirable in many situations, but it can also be handy.
    • by peragrin (659227) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:22PM (#23351490)
      i would say it is variable. I can see the point of both.

      subversion is good for small projects, or larger projects with limited number of developers.

      Once you get into the hundreds and thousands of developers working on the same project though you need to think a bit differently in terms of needs of the individual developer, and the group as a whole.
    • Give developers a personal directory on a shared network drive. Developer repositories/branches stay there(*). Backup shared network drive. Done.

      (*) Don't know about any other systems than Bazaar, but I expect they have similar functionality: Bazaar has "checkouts" which enable you to have a local branch (i.e. on C:/Projects/Whatever) while also auto-committing to the "source" (i.e. the shared directory/drive) when you do a local commit.
    • by EricR86 (1144023) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:26PM (#23351550)

      Frankly, for corporate work, I don't understand why you would want the backup and integrity hassles of a distributed version control system.

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the major selling point of distributed revision control? The idea being that since it is a distributed repository, everyone has a "backup" of someone else's repository (depending where they got their code from). No distributed copy is necessarily considered more important than another. However in a corporate environment I would imagine it works out quite well since there's an inherent hierarchy. Those "higher up" can pull changes from those "below". Those "higher" repositories you could (and probably should) backup.

      As far as integrity goes I think one of the main goals of both Mecurial and Git was to protecting against corruption (using a SHA1 hash). You're much more likely to get corruption through CVS and SVN, which is awful considering it's in a central location.

      • by Wulfstan (180404) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:38PM (#23351728)
        I'm using the terms backup and integrity in slightly different ways than you are.

        By backup - I mean a tape or location where I know I can look to find the "good" copy that contains the official tree of code that represents what is going into my product. What you are describing is copies of repositories sitting in various locations that isn't really the same as a backup. It's also a bit upside-down - I don't want to be "pulling" fixes from engineers, I want engineers "pushing" fixes into a known-good integration environment.

        By integrity - I mean ensuring that you have all of the fixes you want to have from everyone who should be making changes on a project. NOT file corruption.
        • by EricR86 (1144023) on Friday May 09, 2008 @01:00PM (#23352072)

          ...a tape or location where I know I can look to find the "good" copy that contains the official tree of code that represents what is going into my product.

          In a distributed environment usually there's someone's (or a group's) repository that's considered more important than others. In a software setting this could be a Lead Engineer's/QA/Certification's repository. Depending on what your definition of the "good" repository is, you would take the copy from the right place. It opens up in terms of flexibility what code you actually want to get to work with. The upcoming released version of your software from QA, the next-generation stuff that developers are working on, or maybe a new feature that you here so-and-so is working on...

          I don't want to be "pulling" fixes from engineers, I want engineers "pushing" fixes into a known-good integration environment.

          But you have someone who needs to approve a change to a central repository that everyone shares. Right? That person would probably want to examine those changes before they're committed. The only difference between distributed and centralized, in this case, is that it's a required step. Everyone is responsible for their own repository.

          By integrity - I mean ensuring that you have all of the fixes you want to have from everyone who should be making changes on a project
          Again, in a centralized system, someone has to have the responsibility that all "fixes" have been made which isn't much different from a distributed model. And technically anyone is free to make changes to a project locally on their own machine. They just have to notify the "higher" person saying "Hey I've got a fix for so-and-so", and in a controlled manner they can decide whether or not to accept the changes into their own repository.

          I'm no expert on distributed revision control, so anyone please feel free to correct me.

      • But since patches are decentralized and often independent of one another (whereas in SVN they're sequential), you have to take extra care to make sure everyone has a complete copy of the full, up to date project, and not just a widely distributed older variation.
    • by this great guy (922511) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:41PM (#23351792)
      You do realize that a distributed VCS can perfectly be used like a centralized VCS, don't you ? Declare any repository as the "central" one and decide that everybody should push/pull to/from it. That's their power: discributed VCS don't force you into a specific workflow, you choose how you want to use them.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Wulfstan (180404)
        What worries me is that it encourages behaviour which leaves valuable changes sitting on a disk which may not be backed up. I see changes being made to a codebase like valuable little bits of gold which need to be kept somewhere nice and safe, which is not on individual machines but on the server (RAID, redundant power, UPS, etc)

        Yes, if you are disciplined about how you use it then I'm sure you can use it like any centralised VC. It is a tool - it is not evil - it just encourages what I see as risky behavio
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          What worries me is that it encourages behaviour which leaves valuable changes sitting on a disk which may not be backed up.

          Huh ? If you don't push to the main repo, nobody sees your commits. Don't you think this is sufficient to remember DVCS users they need to push regularly ?

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Wulfstan (180404)
            "Valuable changes" doesn't only mean changes which are destined for HEAD or the equivalent. "Valuable changes" in my opinion is anything and everything that you are doing on a codebase.

            I take your point - if you are responsible in how you use DVCS then I can see that it can be made to work. But in my environment I want all of the changes being made (however offensive or broken) to be centrally auditable and not stashed away in some private repository.
            • by this great guy (922511) on Friday May 09, 2008 @02:19PM (#23353108)

              How do you force your cvs/svn users to commit ? You can't, you expect them to be responsible and do it. This isn't much different from a DVCS.

              What if a user wants his work to be backed up but doesn't want to commit because his changes are not ready to be published ? A centralized VCS forces them to commit with the side-effect of making their unfinished work immediately visible in the central repo, while a DVCS lets them commit to a private repo that you can back up independently.

              Your backup requirements can be solved 2 different ways:

              • 1. With any VCS (centralized or distributed), put the users' working directories on private NFS/Samba shares. This way everybody's work, committed or not, is on the file server which can be backed up.
              • 2. Use a DVCS. The users' private repos and working directories can remain on fast local storage on their workstations. A file server contains the main repo as well as private spaces that can be used by the users to periodically push to private repos, so they can be backed up without interfering with the main repo.

              Besides, in this debate, you are completely ignoring the other major advantages of DVCS over centralized ones: scalability, no single point of failure, possibility to work offline and have full access to all of the features of your VCS, usually faster than centralized VCS, low-cost branching/merging, etc.

              • Besides, in this debate, you are completely ignoring the other major advantages of DVCS over centralized ones: scalability, no single point of failure, possibility to work offline and have full access to all of the features of your VCS, usually faster than centralized VCS, low-cost branching/merging, etc.

                Except that at a corporate environment only low-cost branching merging holds.

                • by NNKK (218503)
                  And what backwater corporate environment do you work in? We have developers working from home (both full and part time), developers working while on business trips around the country, even developers living and working on entirely different continents. All of these can benefit from the features of distributed version control systems.
            • But in my environment I want all of the changes being made (however offensive or broken) to be centrally auditable and not stashed away in some private repository.
              But that's a risk of any VCS. Exactly how is that any less of a concern just because you have a centralized server? I've seen that exact situation happen innumerable times using a CVCS. It seems more like you're just afraid of something you don't understand.
              • by Wulfstan (180404)
                It's less of a concern because the pattern of behaviour that is encouraged. DVCS encourages independent working in an "uncontrolled" independent repository whereas CCVS encourages working interdependently in a centralized repository. So it's less of a concern because unless you really go out of your way to be a psycho (weeks without committing a change) you will naturally commit your changes for fear of losing your version history.

                It's always possible to have some psycho who does an svn export and makes his
                • It's not that I don't understand how it works, I do - and I appreciate that you can use any tool irresponsibly - but I'm not convinced that for the type of software development that most companies do DVCS makes sense.
                  Except you keep making points that clearly show that you don't know how it works.
        • by Chemisor (97276) on Friday May 09, 2008 @03:19PM (#23353870)
          > What worries me is that it encourages behaviour which leaves valuable changes sitting
          > on a disk which may not be backed up. I see changes being made to a codebase like valuable
          > little bits of gold which need to be kept somewhere nice and safe

          As a developer, I'll tell you that not all changes are "little bits of gold". Sometimes I just want to try something out, and end up with little bits of crap. The way to think about local changes is the same way you think about non-committed changes to your Subversion repository. In Subversion, I will have plenty of changes sitting on my disk, they just won't be committed until I am satisfied with them. In git, I can commit as many times as I like to my local repository and push only the final version to the central branch. This way I can checkpoint my code with intermediate commits. This is extremely valuable, since those checkpoints might not even work at all, and I would never want them to break the main build, but I can still break up my task into little subtasks and redo or revise each one of them in turn. These subtasks are not backed up in your scenario either, and are much harder to manager there.
          • by Wulfstan (180404)
            I appreciate that this is an advantage or working in a DVCS - but I think a better way of addressing this issue would to have better branch/merge support in SVN rather than independent local repositories.

            You may consider them "bits of crap" - but I'd rather have your work, no matter how crap you consider it, somewhere where I'm relatively certain I can recover it if your laptop or PC craps out. You can still have them on a private branch (this is what I encourage - so they are backed up!) and you get the su
            • by Chemisor (97276)
              > You may consider them "bits of crap" - but I'd rather have your work, no matter how crap
              > you consider it, somewhere where I'm relatively certain I can recover it if your laptop or PC craps out.

              Why? The chances of hard drive failure are extremely low. In my entire life, I have only had it happen to me twice. If you don't buy used drives on eBay, it will probably never happen to you at all. But let's say it happens once every ten years. A temporary branch of the kind I was talking about is probably o
              • by Wulfstan (180404)
                You've made a good argument there but the problem is not the labour cost - if it were just that then it would be less of a concern. The problem is that there are project-related issues (delivery dates for example) which make a lost repository a far more significant issue than just the labour cost of retyping the code.

                Regarding costs of backup - basically the repository is just mirrored on a daily basis - so recovering the entire repository is probably not half a day but an hour at most. And the chances of l
                • I'll experiment with using DVCS on a project soon and will see if the shortcomings are less significant than I am making out.

                  One possibility, if you want a low-time-cost way to try a DVCS, is to try SVK [bestpractical.com] on an existing svn server.

                  To make it easy, I've copied and paraphrased the quickstart I was given for the first time I was introduced to SVK...

                  I'll assume you've downloaded and installed SVN and SVK.

                  First step is mirroring:
                  user@host$ svk mirror svn://repository/url //mirror/project
                  Committed revision 209.


                  Sync

    • by greg1104 (461138)
      The way you're working with Subversion right now, each developer checks out a copy where they are making private temporary modifications in order to improve the code, only to check the result in when it's done. You have no ability to see, backup, or manage those private checkouts, even though there may be substantial work going into them each day. You should consider that a large problem with using Subversion. If you're lucky, developers make branches and commit to that regularly so there's less chance o
      • by Wulfstan (180404)
        I'm not fully convinced by this argument. When people use SVN they naturally get nervous about having uncommitted changes and so they commit regularly - and are encouraged to do so.

        Seeing what people are up to is also a lot easier in a centralized system if people are committing - having to go and dig around in a bunch of private repositories is a major pain. And the visibility into work in progress requires publishing their private repository, so that needs to be enabled just the same as it needs to in SVN
    • by imbaczek (690596)

      I run the IT systems for my small software company and frankly Subversion is a great tool for the job. I don't *want* a distributed VC system because I don't want the hassle of trying to ensure that everyone's modifications to the code tree are backed up correctly and stored safely somewhere. I want it in a central spot I can back up and manage without my employees having to worry about it.

      Clearly you have no idea how DVCSes work. Every employee has his own backup and you still can tell them (or force them) to push changes to a blessed server (which can be called central, but this isn't a _technical_ thing anymore), copy of which you can then safely stash away.

      There are two things a DVCS can't do that a CVCS can:
      1. Delete something from global history (just can't be done, because everyone has his own backup)
      2. Partial checkouts (if you've got a monolithic repository instead of per-projec

      • by Wulfstan (180404)
        I understand just fine how a DVCS works. The problem I see in a corporate environment is that it encourages working from a local repository (it's not a backup - it's a real, living, breathing repository that exists entirely independently from the source) rather than encouraging working centrally.

        Contrary to what you say, it doesn't seem to me that you can force people to push all of their changes through to a blessed server. People can work independently until it is time to release and this is made possible
  • Git out of here.
  • Git vs Subversion (Score:5, Informative)

    by KiloByte (825081) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:29PM (#23351596)
    While Git obviously has its strong sides, often quite overwhelming, there are cases when it sucks compared to SVN:
    1. timestamps. Subversion doesn't do that by default, but it has good enough metadata support than timestamps can be hacked in easily. For Git, metastore is nearly worthless. If you store a program source, you risk just skewed builds -- for other types of data, lack of timestamps is often a deal breaker.
    2. move tracking: trying to move a directory branch from one dir to another means you lose history. Rename tracking works only sometimes, often it will take a random file from somewhere else, etc.
    3. large files. Take a 100MB binary file into SVN, change one byte, commit. Change one byte again. And again. Git will waste the freaking 100MB for every single commit.
    4. partial checkouts. If there's a 5GB repository, you'll often want to check out just a single dir. With Git, there is no such option.
    5. ease of use. I see that ordinary users, web monkeys and so on can learn SVN easily; with Git, even I had some troubles initially.

    On the other hand, SVN used to have no merge tracking (I wonder what that "limited merge tracking" in 1.5 means...) which for distributed development of program sources is worse than points 1..5 together.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 0xABADC0DA (867955)
      As a programmer, what pisses me off most about subversion is... well just check out their codebase and look around a bit. Yeah, it works and it does 90% of what people want it to, but the code is a giant piece of shit. That svn has been developed as a total hack job and they seemingly have spent no effort over time trying to clean it up, as a programmer, offends me. I don't know how anybody can have confidence in svn when they can't even do simple changes to it.

      They've been working for years to do simple
      • Re:Git vs Subversion (Score:5, Informative)

        by slipsuss (36760) <<sussman> <at> <red-bean.com>> on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:08PM (#23357770) Homepage
        I'm shocked you say this -- for years I've heard nothing but compliments about how readable, well organized, well documented, and stylistically consistent Subversion's codebase is. There's a whole HACKING guide that explains the styles -- both semantic and syntactic. It's something we're quite proud of.

        As a matter of fact, a guy doing a demo at an Apple Developer conference once used the svn codebase as 'something big to compile' when demonstrating the XCode IDE. When we asked why he used svn, he said that it was "the only open source codebase he'd ever seen which compiles with no warnings."

        If you have specific criticisms about the codebase, we'd like to hear. Instead, your post just seems to be about how your personal wish-list of features has never been added, and therefore "the codebase must be really bad." I'm not sensing any logic to this conclusion.

        svn 1.6 is going to likely have .svn/ metadata centralized in one place, the way DVCS systems do. It will also likely make the "extra copy" of files be an optional thing, as many have asked. And svn 1.5 fixes the 'svn mv * foo/' wildcard expansion behavior.

        The fact is: we haven't added your pet features yet because we've been too busy working on other big fish, like FSFS, svnserve, locking, svnsync, SASL support, changelists, interactive conflict resolution, and oh yeah... automatic tracking of merges. :-)

        The working copy code was designed in a specific way -- the scattered .svn/ areas and extra cached copies of files was deliberate, and considered a feature. Just because we can't write 100 lines of code and "magically" make it behave in opposite ways doesn't mean it's a bad codebase. Even the *best* codebases are based on certain foundational assumptions -- some things are abstracted, some aren't. The things you complain about weren't switches we thought we'd ever need to flip, so we put the abstractions in other places.
        • by Wulfstan (180404)
          Ben - just a big thankyou for all of your work on SVN. It has definitely changed my company's life for the better and all of your energies are appreciated!

          I can't wait for better merge tracking, that's my number one hot-button issue.
    • Re:Git vs Subversion (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Chemisor (97276) on Friday May 09, 2008 @03:28PM (#23354006)
      > 1. timestamps.

      I don't see what you are talking about. git timestamps every commit too.

      > 2. move tracking: trying to move a directory branch from one dir to another means you lose history.

      No you don't. If you use "git mv", like you're supposed to, history moves with you.

      > 3. large files. Take a 100MB binary file into SVN, change one byte, commit.
      > Change one byte again. And again. Git will waste the freaking 100MB for every single commit.

      No it won't. In fact, it will use less space than SVN for that commit. Yes, git supports diffs on any kind of file, and stores them that way. It didn't always, but the current version certainly does.

      > 4. partial checkouts. If there's a 5GB repository, you'll often want to check out just a single dir.

      That's what git submodules are for. Furthermore, git repositories are smaller than Subversion repositories by a large factor. At least twice, and I've seen as much as a tenfold reduction. Linux 2.6 repository is only 255M in size, and that's a huge project. Anything you do will likely be much smaller.

      > 5. ease of use. I see that ordinary users, web monkeys and so on can learn SVN easily;

      Bullshit. The commands are almost exactly the same. I don't know what people are complaining about.
  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:30PM (#23351624) Homepage

    If you're in a highly-distributed development environment like Linux, where the developers are spread across multiple continents and have very little shared infrastructure and a high need to work independently of each other (either because of preference or because they don't want their work stalled by another undersea cable cut half a world away), then yes using a centralized VCS like Subversion is stupid. But if you're a developer on a project where all the developers are in a common location sharing common infrastructure, often literally within speaking distance of each other, then a decentralized VCS like Git is stupid. It's harder to maintain and, in that situation, yields none of the offsetting benefits.

    Analogy: a fleet of Chevy vans vs. a freight train. The vans are far more flexible, they can travel any route needed whereas the freight train's limited to fixed tracks, and their smaller size and lower cost each let you buy a lot of them and dedicate each one to just a few deliveries in a particular area without a lot of overhead. You can fan the vans out all over the city, sending just what you need where it's needed and rerouting each one to adapt to changes without upsetting the others. But if your only delivery each day is 1000 tons of a single product from one warehouse to another 600 miles away, you're better off with that one big freight train.

    • But if you're a developer on a project where all the developers are in a common location sharing common infrastructure, often literally within speaking distance of each other, then a decentralized VCS like Git is stupid. It's harder to maintain and, in that situation, yields none of the offsetting benefits.

      FUD. I think you may have had a bad experience with Git, which is known to be somewhat difficult to learn, but in general the easy things you do with a CVCS can just as easily be done with a DVCS (comm

      • by Todd Knarr (15451)

        Problem is, those "advantages" aren't in a lot of situations. Where I work, for instance, making it easy to get the code out of the office and onto a home machine would be a Bad Thing requiring nasty controls be imposed on the home machine to keep the code under the same control as if it were on the corporate internal network. Branching's already minimal-cost. The central repository's in the data center, and thinking is that if those machines are down then we're dead in the water anyway since our test envir

        • by Spoke (6112)
          You're still missing the point.

          YOU STILL KEEP A SINGLE COPY OF YOUR DCVS ON YOUR MASTER SERVER. YOU STILL MAINTAIN CENTRALIZED CONTROL!

          For example, look at Linux kernel development. Linus maintains the central repository. Every single other developer regularly syncs up with Linus while working on their own tree.

          If you don't want people taking it home, then you tell them not to develop on their note books. Same as when you're using a CVCS.

          DCVS still has a number of advantages:

          1. It's dead simple to branch of
          • by Todd Knarr (15451)

            But if it's all on a centralized server, what does a DVCS give you that a CVCS doesn't?

            1. It's dead simple to do this in CVS or SVN too. Branch, make your changes, check in as needed, merge when you're satisfied or discard the branch if you aren't. You don't need a DVCS for that. And yes, it gets stored forever. That's the point of a VCS. If it's your personal project it's not a big deal, but for corporate development the last thing you want is developers having work that's not available to everyone else.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:39PM (#23351758)
    ... and is primarily focussed on kernel development. Some would even say it is the only thing he knows how to do. That is fine, but it does not make him an authority on version control systems for other types of projects. Kernel development has very specific needs, not mirrored by other projects. Personally I find SVN perfectly adequate for small teams, and not only for program source code, but also for texts.
    • by nuzak (959558) on Friday May 09, 2008 @01:08PM (#23352192) Journal
      Linus has a long history of flapping his jaw about kernel development topics he knows nothing about as well. To his credit, they often become topics that he didn't know about at the time that he then becomes well-educated on (SMP and /dev/poll to name a couple) but sometimes it's on things he religiously refuses to learn anything further about (microkernel architectures).

      He's an excellent assembly hacker, a fast learner, and at least a majority of the time a nice guy, so most people overlook it.
    • by burris (122191)
      Even when I code by myself on my own projects I greatly prefer the flexibility of git over Subversion. Why settle for "perfectly adequate" when you can have your choice of several tools that are much better?
      • by burris (122191) on Friday May 09, 2008 @01:13PM (#23352288)
        Seems to me that most of the people promoting DVCS have used them and have seen the light. Once you use a DVCS on a project you don't want to go back to the bad old way of doing things.

        Most of the people knocking DVCS or saying they can't see the benefits haven't actually used them on any projects. They have built up a framework in their minds of How Things Should Work, but unfortunately that model was defined by the limitations of their tools.

  • we use SVN (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jack9 (11421) on Friday May 09, 2008 @01:21PM (#23352402)
    IDE integration:
    SVN is currently integrated with our IDEs (all 3), one of the main selling points in choosing a VCS.

    Ease of backups:
    We archive our repositories every day, IT loves being able to simply tgz the SVN directory and not have to worry about anything else, regardless of the state of any current projects (all groups use SVN).

    Simplicity:
    SVN/Trac training (client use, management, backend workings) takes less than 10 minutes. In another 15 minutes I can have someone setting up their own SVN repositories+Trac, without needing to pull up a single reference document, primarily because the an SVN setup methodology is trivial to memorize.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      On IDE Integration

      I use Visual Studio with SVN at work, and while it doesn't have IDE integration (AnkSVN sucked last time I tried), which would be optimal, I find that using TortoiseSVN to be pretty adequate, if not better than IDE intergration in a lot of ways (Don't have to open the IDE to do an update on your local copy). I think the thing that makes both IDE integration and TortoiseSVN great is to be able to use a nice GUI to manage you checkins and updates. I mean, the command line works, but this
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jack9 (11421)
        I personally use Tortoise but the IDEs tend to not be change-aware unless I'm using the integrated tool.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by eddy (18759)

      > SVN is currently integrated with our IDEs (all 3), one of the main selling points in choosing a VCS.

      Where I work we all use the cmdline, so IDE integration is a complete non-issue in selecting a SCM for some teams.

      > IT loves being able to simply tgz the SVN directory

      Pretty sure that's not the correct way to backup a Subversion repo, unless by 'simply' you mean that you first hot-backup.py the repo and then tar it up.

      • by Jack9 (11421)

        Pretty sure that's not the correct way to backup a Subversion repo,

        I actually don't know if the files are zipped since the size is not really an issue and I know I don't need anything other than an SVN directory (according to your naming conventions, as such):
        svn/repositories
        svn/conf
        svn/tracenv
        to completely restore all projects along with their Trac (given I have installed Trac), although I can simply rebuild Trac out of an existing repository anyways. We've never had trouble restoring. One of our younger r

  • SVN's weaknesses (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Scareduck (177470) on Friday May 09, 2008 @01:29PM (#23352516) Homepage Journal
    Without saying too much about distributed version control schemes like Git (which I have never used), I have two major beefs with SVN:
    • Merges in a typical environment become effectively anonymous. Let's say you have a build manager and individual developers working on different changes in parallel. The build manager can't merge the changes without those changes taking on his identity, that is, all identifying information about the originator of the changes is lost.
    • So-called "best practice" for SVN branching means building new branches with every new release. That is, it's not recommended to build one branch and merge changes from the trunk into it as you're incrementally changing things on that branch, noooo. You have to keep polluting the repository with needless hair by making new branches every week, and sometimes, multiple ones per day.
    These are just two I'm aware of that bite us in the ass on a regular basis. The first issue is supposed to be fixed in one of the near-term mods to SVN, but the fact that the second even exists tells me that the guys developing SVN don't really work in the same world as a lot of the bigger commercial development environments do.
    • Re:SVN's weaknesses (Score:5, Informative)

      by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Friday May 09, 2008 @02:21PM (#23353132) Homepage Journal

      The build manager can't merge the changes without those changes taking on his identity, that is, all identifying information about the originator of the changes is lost.

      Since I'm sure you're not talking about what svn blame gives you, what do you mean exactly?

      That is, it's not recommended to build one branch and merge changes from the trunk into it as you're incrementally changing things on that branch, noooo.

      Umm, says who? Thanks exactly what we do. We have /trunk and /branches/devel. When one of us gets a particularly stable version of /branches/devel ready, we merge it to /trunk.

      You have to keep polluting the repository with needless hair by making new branches every week, and sometimes, multiple ones per day.

      Have to? No way. But since branches are basically free, why would you want to avoid them?

      We use them for experimental "what-if" branches, like "I wonder what would happen if I ported our application from MySQL to SQLite". You copy "/branches/devel" to "/branches/sqlite" and hack away. If it works, merge your changes back to devel. If it bombs, just delete the branch./P

      • by Myria (562655)

        The build manager can't merge the changes without those changes taking on his identity, that is, all identifying information about the originator of the changes is lost.

        Since I'm sure you're not talking about what svn blame gives you, what do you mean exactly?

        I think the parent is referring to the problem that when you merge, "svn blame" reports the merge itself as the origin of the changed lines rather than where they came from originally. It makes it difficult to know who really made those changes.

    • Why on Earth are you generating releases that often? I've worked in a lot of shops that used SVN, and at we used the SVN revision number for our "internal" releases. Given a path and a revision number, you have a unique identifier for *EVERY* sub-directory inside of an SVN repository. Until we actually made a long term supported branch we didn't bother with human consumable names.

      If you really generate multiple branches a week inside of the same repository that you intend to provide long term support

  • by lpangelrob (714473) on Friday May 09, 2008 @01:29PM (#23352518)
    ...getting all the other IT people in the office to use it. Even better? Getting them recognize why version control is so useful in the first place. :-D
  • by IgLou (732042) on Friday May 09, 2008 @01:30PM (#23352530)
    If you are one of those MSDN shops where you went to subversion because VSS is weak, you can go with Team System. We were using VSS before and Team system is way better for version control plus it has defect tracking and a build agent. Also, they have caching server to aid distributed environments. Considering it's free (sort of) with your MSDN license (I think it's with their "team edition" licenses) it's tough to beat. It's tough to beat that, especially for larger shops. The only things I don't like in some ways is how it represents the branching and the source control permissions and that was comparatively minor problems. I work in Config Management/Build and so I don't know what Joe developer would like/dislike about it.

    If you're not an MSDN shop then what to use is more problematic. I really liked subversion but that was years back. From what I recall for what it was it does well. The only product I was ever "wow'ed" with was Accurev. That product deals with branching like a breeze and I think they might have a defect tracking module now.
    • by gbjbaanb (229885)
      It isn't even near free.

      from MS.com [microsoft.com]
      Visual Studio Team System 2008 Development Edition
      with MSDN Premium Subscription $5,469 $2,299

      Don't forget that's $5k for the fist year, and then $2k per year renewal. It would be cheaper just to buy it, but then you'd not get the dev licences for the OS and other tools. shame really, MS used to be really good with these things but they've become too big, difficult to install, difficult to use and really expensive.
  • by icknay (96963) on Friday May 09, 2008 @02:19PM (#23353102)
    This probably should have been in the summary -- merge tracking is being added in 1.5, so bouncing changes from one branch to another is now easy. This is a huge feature, and something as I recall Linus specifically complained about in his talk.

    http://blogs.open.collab.net/svn/2007/09/what-subversion.html [collab.net]

    BTW, they did a really nice job of mapping out the use cases and whatnot before implementing the feature. I guess source control people are natural planners.
    http://subversion.tigris.org/merge-tracking/requirements.html [tigris.org]

    Anyway, I'm sure the world will continue to have need for both distributed and client/server source control systems, and Subversion is a nice example of the latter.
  • by Cyrano de Maniac (60961) on Friday May 09, 2008 @02:38PM (#23353318)
    What I don't see mentioned very often, if at all, is the implicit assumption in distributed systems such as git, that a single person has ultimate integration responsibility and authority in order to form the official/mainline release. That is, given a single tree that is considered the main one from which all others ultimately derive (Linus' tree in the Linux case), there is absolutely no way for tools such as git to allow collaborative maintenance of that tree. In the end, the owner of that tree must perform all checkins to the tree, and must resolve all merge conflicts themself. This is a dual problem in that it wastes the time of a potentially talented developer (e.g. Linus) doing the mundane work of merging and integration, and the additional problem that if this mainline tree owner is not an expert in some particular area of the code, they are likely to make mistakes when resolving conflicts or performing other integration tasks.

    Contrast this with a centralized source model where all developers have the ability to check in to the tree, optionally coupled with a peer review process, enforced either through convention or through mechanisms in the tools. Under this model each developer is responsible for their own integration and merging efforts, not wasting the time of a centralized authority. Not only is the central authority freed from routine tree maintenance work, but each developer can make the best and wisest decisions regarding the particular area of the codebase in which they are an expert, and not have to become involved in areas they have little experience with. Granted, for larger projects there is still a need for some management of checkin authorization, particularly to avoid conflicts during large tree merge operations and the like, but it's more of a coordination role than an authorization role.

    This second model is what my employer uses, and our homegrown source control system is well-tailored to it (it actually has capabilities for more centralized control, but they are by and large unused). Perhaps this is unusual, as my experience with other employers is minimal, and mostly took the form of "copy your code into this directory once in a while" (i.e. "Source control? Why would we need that?"). However, given adequately diligent and intelligent developers, I have to say it works marvelously.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RedWizzard (192002)

      What I don't see mentioned very often, if at all, is the implicit assumption in distributed systems such as git, that a single person has ultimate integration responsibility and authority in order to form the official/mainline release. That is, given a single tree that is considered the main one from which all others ultimately derive (Linus' tree in the Linux case), there is absolutely no way for tools such as git to allow collaborative maintenance of that tree. In the end, the owner of that tree must perform all checkins to the tree, and must resolve all merge conflicts themself. This is a dual problem in that it wastes the time of a potentially talented developer (e.g. Linus) doing the mundane work of merging and integration, and the additional problem that if this mainline tree owner is not an expert in some particular area of the code, they are likely to make mistakes when resolving conflicts or performing other integration tasks.

      The reason you don't see it mentioned very often is because it's not really an issue. You just need that single person to be able to trust at least some of the developers they get changes from. Get the trusted "lieutenants" to do the merging for their particular areas. They can even delegate responsibility further. Since in a centralised system you have to trust all the developers to do merging this is no worse, and potentially better.

  • ... management system right now. One problem is, Subversion won't work because I need to have totally clean checkout trees. Subversion inserts tracking files in the checkout trees. So I guess I have to look for something else.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Todd Knarr (15451)

      All version-control systems do that. It's not optional: you have to have meta-information about the checked-out files available, and there's no place in the files themselves to put that information. Now, you might want to look at the distinction between a working directory (with all the tracking files present, allowing the developer to check in and out, compare with different revisions in the tree, all the normal things) and an exported tree (created using for example the CVS "export" command, contains only

      • by vrmlguy (120854)
        I'm not sure that this isn't a trumped up use-case, but I wonder if it would be possible to have a parallel directory with all of the metadata in it, instead of using .svn directories. I understand that it's programatically convenient to be able to look at ./.svn/myfile wherever we are in the source tree, but things like the MacOS programs Keynote and Pages pro-actively remove .svn (and other) directories when they find them. Having a ~/.svn-meta directory that parallels the checked-out directory would be
        • by Todd Knarr (15451)

          Problem: the VCS doesn't know the base of the project. If I'm editing a file in /home/me/src/projects/utilities/ljbackup/database, exactly what portion of that path is this project's tree and which is the part the project lives under? It has to be able to figure that out with nothing more than the path available, remember, since you don't want it to store anything in the working directory indicating what the base for this directory's files is supposed to be. And it also has to accept ljbackup/database being

          • by Skapare (16644)

            It would be possible to make a means to discover where the base is without the need to have something inside the tree. You start by having a parallel tree with the meta data over there. Of course you have to know where that parallel tree begins, and there could be many schemes to find it. One is to have a specific name somewhere along the path to the current directory. That specific name is not the project base; it's just how to jump over to the parallel tree. Then from there the same relative path ha

          • by vrmlguy (120854)

            Problem: the VCS doesn't know the base of the project. If I'm editing a file in /home/me/src/projects/utilities/ljbackup/database, exactly what portion of that path is this project's tree and which is the part the project lives under?

            IIRC, some VCSs know. When you do a checkout, they store the path where you issued that command in a cache, which can be found relative to $HOME, not $CWD. Hmmm, it's been over a year since I last used it, but the more I think about it, the more I think that rPath's Conary works this way.

            Why do you need a working directory without meta-data present? I can't think of too many reasons, and the ones I can think of fall under "That's probably a bad idea.".

            Did you even bother to read the entirety of my reply? I said, "The MacOS programs Keynote and Pages pro-actively remove .svn (and other) directories when they find them." In other words, you have some Keynote objects;

        • by Skapare (16644)

          This is what I had in mind. I didn't say we can't have any meta info at all. Instead, I just want the tree itself to be completely clean, and hold the meta info somewhere else, such as another parallel tree. And it could be made easy enough to find it with a simple rule: search up the path of parent directories until a directory with a specific name (such as ".svn-meta" as in your example) is found. It might usually be placed in the user home directory. It would apply to all projects that have differen

      • by Megane (129182)

        All version-control systems do that.

        I know for sure that Clearcase doesn't do the equivalent of putting .svn directories all over the freaking place. There's a directory of tracking files at the checkout root, and that's it. And though it's been a while since I've used CVS, I don't remember CVS spamming control files all over the place like that either.

        In fact, I'd have to say that all the .svn directory spam is probably the most annoying thing to me about svn.

        • by Ritchie70 (860516)
          CVS creates a subdirectory named CVS, just like SVN creates .svn.

          (I'm looking at CVS on a Windows system and SVN on a Unix system, so the CVS name used under Unix or the SVN name used under Windows may be slightly different, but the directories are definitely there.)
    • Check out svk.
    • ... management system right now. One problem is, Subversion won't work because I need to have totally clean checkout trees. Subversion inserts tracking files in the checkout trees. So I guess I have to look for something else.

      If you're trying to do something like track configuration changes to a Linux server (such as monitoring /etc), try FSVS which is a different front-end. It stores its data in a SVN repository, allowing you to use the regular SVN tools. There are some other bells and whistles with F
  • There is nothing in the distributed systems that precludes one from using them in a centralized fashion if so desired. The term decentralized, as used in this context, simply means there is no inherent central point. It does not mean one cannot be established.
  • I think an incremental move of Subversion to a distributed model would be the best way forward. Svk shows it can be done, Subversion should just "do it right", rather than providing it as an add-on. I think if Subversion did that, it would instantly become the de-facto standard for version control, distributed or otherwise.

    If Subversion doesn't move to a distributed model, I'm probably going to switch my projects incrementally over to Mercurial (Git isn't really an option).
  • and do handle merging much better than svn (which hardly manages merging at all) however, a lot of companies use perforce, because perforce does handle branching and merging well, whereas it also allows for a centrol source repository.

    Mercurial and get are mostly built around the model of sending your patches in via email. They make some noise about how you *could* build a central repository, but it's not like that out of the box, and things like permissions often aren't there yet.

    Basically, the development

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