Archive for December, 2006

VSS to SVN – How To

December 16, 2006

I wrote up a simple doc for my team to help smooth the transition from VSS to Subversion. Here’s the text of it, maybe it’ll help you too!

What is SVN?
Subversion (SVN) is our new version control system that is very similar to CVS. It fixes many bugs and limitations of the current version of CVS. We have chosen SVN as their version control system and have installed the SVN server on <your server here> for production use.

How can I connect to Subversion?
There are several open source Subversion clients available on the internet. There is a pretty long list of svn clients and plugins available. The quickest and easiest client to use is TortoiseSVN. For the remainder of this document it is assumed that TortoiseSVN is being used. The following steps outline the process for connecting to the svn server:

1. Download and install the Tortoise SVN client. It can be downloaded at
2. Install using the default settings.
3. Checkout the project that are interested in checking out.

Note – if you are working on drive over a network, you‘ll need to update a setting in TortoiseSVN to get the icons to show up: Go to Settings -> Look and Feel -> Icon Overlays and check the drive types for which you want to see overlay icons.Be aware that enabling overlays for network drives will slow down TortoiseSVN.

SVN Directory Structure
The following is the current directory structure:

https://your.repo.url – Doc root for production subversion repository

/applications – a listing of all current apps in the repository
-><appname> – application name
—>/branches – space reserved for development branches
—>/tags – space reserved for tags
—>/trunk – the main development line of code
/db – folders for each database’s SQL scripts
->/<dbname> – database name
—>/branches – space reserved for development branches
—>/tags – space reserved for tags
—>/trunk – the main development line of SQL scripts
/documentation – space in the repo for storing docs requiring revision control –>/<project name>
->/qa – space in the repo reserved for storing QA-related docs and scripts

It is possible to have other directories under the trunk for other requirements. For example, if a prototype is required for the project, a /prototype directory can be created for this purpose. Similarly, other directories can be created on an as needed basis.You may have noticed we’ve separated out the documentation from the source code. There are several reasons for this:

1. Isolating source from docs is generally a good practice
2. We’d like to reduce user/permissions management overhead
3. We plan to move as much documentation as possible into a document management / collaboration tool in the near future.

We’re trying to maintain a similar tree to what we’ve used in VSS, and make changes only where it makes sense.

Checking out a project
To check out a project from svn using TortoiseSVN, click on “File – SVN Checkout”. Enter the URL of the directory that you would like to check out and the local directory to put it into. For example, to check out app “foo”, the URL would be:


Simply enter your password when prompted and the download will begin.

Importing a new project
To import a new project using TortoiseSVN, using the Windows file browser, go to the directory above the one you would like to import and verify it meets the directory requirements specified above under the /trunk directory. Click on the directory to import. Click on “File – TortoiseSVN – import”. Enter the URL of that you want the directory to be imported into. For example, if you are importing a directory called “foo”, the URL to use is:https://your.repo.url/applications/foo/trunk/

Once the file(s) is imported you need to do a checkout to get the project back out of svn so that you can now modify the files.

Transitioning from VSS to SVN
Below are some common tasks we’re used to performing with VSS, and their equivalent in Subversion. SVN does some things fundamentally different from VSS, so it’s not exactly a 1:1 mapping, but this can serve as a guide during the transition:

VSS Command SVN Command Difference
GetLatestVersion Update The SVN and CVS update will notify if files are pruned from repository so you can remove them from local repository (VSS would not).
Add Add Even though they have the same name, there are very big differences. The VSS adds the file directly to the repository whereas in CVS and SVN it is a local note that is made. The file is only added during the commit.
Delete Delete Same as add but for delete
Checkin Commit These commands pretty much do the same
Checkout There is no edit in SVN, but there is a lock command to lock a file before using it.
Checkout The checkout in SVN is essentially telling SVN “I want to track changes in these files”. You do a SVN checkout when you want to initiate a project.
Undo Checkout Revert (and unlock if necessary)
ShowDifferences Compare In SVN, you need to view the log for the file, and select 2 rpevious revisions. Then you can right-click and view diffs
Label Copy A tag in SVN is actually a copy. Therefore it must be copied in the tags section (see previous explanation).
(manual copy) Copy In VSS dragging and dropping a branch was the equivalent of a “branch”.

Where to find more information:
More information on Subversion can be obtained from the subversion book.