Preface

Table of Contents

Audience
How to Read this Book
Conventions Used in This Book
Typographic Conventions
Icons
Organization of This Book
This Book is Free
Acknowledgments
From Ben Collins-Sussman
From Brian W. Fitzpatrick
From C. Michael Pilato

If C gives you enough rope to hang yourself, think of Subversion as a sort of rope storage facility.” —Brian W. Fitzpatrick

In the world of open-source software, the Concurrent Versions System (CVS) has long been the tool of choice for version control. And rightly so. CVS itself is free software, and its non-restrictive modus operandi and support for networked operation—which allow dozens of geographically dispersed programmers to share their work—fits the collaborative nature of the open-source world very well. CVS and its semi-chaotic development model have become cornerstones of open-source culture.

But like many tools, CVS is starting to show its age. Subversion is a relatively new version control system designed to be the successor to CVS. The designers set out to win the hearts of CVS users in two ways: by creating an open-source system with a design (and “look and feel”) similar to CVS, and by attempting to fix most of CVS's noticeable flaws. While the result isn't necessarily the next great evolution in version control design, Subversion is very powerful, very usable, and very flexible.

This book is written to document the 1.3 series of the Subversion version control system. We have made every attempt to be thorough in our coverage. However, Subversion has a thriving and energetic development community, so there are already a number of features and improvements planned for future versions of Subversion that may change some of the commands and specific notes in this book.

Audience

This book is written for computer-literate folk who want to use Subversion to manage their data. While Subversion runs on a number of different operating systems, its primary user interface is command-line based. It is that command-line tool (svn) which is discussed and used in this book. For consistency, the examples in this book assume the reader is using a Unix-like operating system, and is relatively comfortable with Unix and command-line interfaces.

That said, the svn program also runs on non-Unix platforms like Microsoft Windows. With a few minor exceptions, such as the use of backward slashes (\) instead of forward slashes (/) for path separators, the input to and output from this tool when run on Windows are identical to its Unix counterpart. However, Windows users may find more success by running the examples inside the Cygwin Unix emulation environment.

Most readers are probably programmers or system administrators who need to track changes to source code. This is the most common use for Subversion, and therefore it is the scenario underlying all of the book's examples. But Subversion can be used to manage changes to any sort of information: images, music, databases, documentation, and so on. To Subversion, all data is just data.

While this book is written with the assumption that the reader has never used version control, we've also tried to make it easy for users of CVS to make a painless leap into Subversion. Special sidebars may discuss CVS from time to time, and a special appendix summarizes most of the differences between CVS and Subversion.