Subversion

Wednesday 1 May 2002

As a software engineer, tools mean a lot to me. One I’ve been watching with interest is subversion, a new version control system.

For starters, it has a great pragmatic goal: “to be a compelling replacement for CVS”. Everybody in the world uses CVS, and it is great, but it is also a little flaky and a little too low-tech. Subversion is explicitly trying to keep all the good things, and fix the worst of the bad things (atomicity, scriptability, modularity, and tracking more than just the contents of files, for example).

The developers seem to be making impressive progress towards shipping subversion: their news page reads like a model of meeting deadlines. They’ve been self-hosted (they store their own code in subversion itself) since September.

Their code is some of the most-commented code I have seen, which I think indicates a deliberateness that bodes well for the product. (On the down side in the code: they have chosen the least-defensible brace style possible. Don’t get me started!) (Update: it turns out it is the brace style recommended in the GNU C coding standards. Blechh.)

Lastly, they have a sense of humor. The name itself is a pun on version control systems in general, with a whiff of anarchistic open source thrown in. And their replacement for the “cvs annotate” command is going to be called “svn blame”.

I’m looking forward to trying it.

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