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September 12, 2017

SVN Repository Overview: How to Use Subversion Repositories

Repository Management

It's important to manage subversion repository — SVN repository — properly. But first, let's cover the basics. A SVN repository stores your code and its history. Here, we explain how to host SVN repositories, tips on how to use SVN repository (including when to do SVN commits), and how to manage your SVN repository. 

Read along to learn how to use SVN repository or jump ahead to the section that interests you the most.

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What Is a Subversion Repository?

A Subversion repository — abbreviated SVN repository — is a database filled with your code, files, and other project assets. A SVN repository maintains a complete history of every change ever made. 

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SVN Repository Overview

SVN repositories store your code and its history. Each repo can be accessed various ways depending on the server where it’s hosted:

  • From an organization’s internal server (on-premises).
  • From an external, web client (SaaS cloud server).

Development teams always have one central SVN repository for one or many local checkouts. Any and all changes able to be contributed back to the central repo as soon as they’re ready.

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Should You Host SVN Repositories?

For teams who want a managed service to handle SVN repositories, SVN hosting might be a good fit. SVN hosting services let you:

  • Create a repo in the cloud
  • Manage its access rights
  • Control everything as you would from an internal server
  • Avoid the cost of maintenance and management

As teams prioritize development over added IT infrastructure and cost, cloud hosting services are becoming increasingly popular.

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Subversion Hosting Options

Your best Subversion hosting option is Helix TeamHub

For teams who are committed to the best SVN web client hosting, Helix TeamHub is an intuitive hosting solution. And most teams can set up their Helix TeamHub account within a few minutes. Plus, for teams who have SVN and Git repos, Helix TeamHub lets you store them in one project alongside artifacts.

Although Helix TeamHub is an intuitive SVN hosting solution, it doesn’t solve the problems many teams face with SVN. One thing we hear from many customers who migrate off SVN? SVN can’t keep up.

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Best SVN Hosting For Repositories: Helix TeamHub.

If you’re considering a solution to help manage and host your SVN repository, consider Helix TeamHub. There are pricing options and license tiers that fit every organization, large or small.

Get free SVN hosting for up to 5 users and 1GB of data with Helix TeamHub.

➡️ create helix teamhub account

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When to Use SVN Commits

Commits are the saved state of code changes for specific points in time. A commit is literally saving your development progress; every commit is a mile marker on your product’s roadmap.

Commits in SVN are done between the local checkout and central repository. Changes are committed to the central repo. Each commit includes both the changes and a commit message, which gives details on the changes you’re introducing.

$ svn commit  –m “removed old file ‘feature x’ .”
Deleting                         feature x
Committed revision 2.

The more explanatory your commit messages, the more visibility and insight you'll gain from your code changes. What’s more, commit messages can provide clarity to past or archived changes that would be confusing without context.

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How to Manage and How to Use a Subversion Repository

When you are using SVN, almost everything follows a development pattern, or lifecycle. Here’s a quick rundown of what that roadmap looks like when you use SVN.

1. Check Out Repos

You’re ready to make great products. You’ve got your developer hat on. Let’s get started.

Before you can make any changes, you must first check out a repository from your hosted SVN workspace. SVN checkouts will bring over the latest revision of the repository you want to work with. If you’ve just created the repo, no commits exist yet and no revisions will be found, so you’ll be on the first version of that repo.

2. Perform Changes

Once you have the SVN repository checked out, you can start making changes. Choose from your favorite developer tools and editors to perform changes to your repository that reflect your product development goals.

Submit changed files to your repository and track those commits using the client UI of your hosted SVN.

3. Review Changes

After submitting various files, it’s important to review the changes you’ve made. SVN hosts will take file updates committed to an individual repo and list them as revisions. If you’ve added five versions of the same file to a repo, you can navigate that complete history from versions 1,2,3,4, or 5. SVN hosting tools make that review process simple and easy to execute.

Did a developer submit a glaring error that needs to be rolled back to a previous version? Well, then…

4. Revert Changes

SVN provides a command that can revert your file changes to a previous, healthy version. Simply use “svn revert” in your command line to bring your file back to the state it was before your edits. And the command isn't limited to individual files. You can revert entire directories or repository in a single command.

5. Resolve Conflicts

Conflicts occur when two adjacent developers are making changes to the same file — this is a particularly common occurrence in large organizations, where repos and files permeate the enterprise.

Conflicts are a part of a normal development workflow and are pretty straightforward. Basically, you have three options. 1) “My colleague’s changes are best. Forget mine, we’ll use his.” 2) “Man, I’m smart. My changes are best. Sorry, colleague, we’re scrapping yours.” Or 3) “Our changes work best together. What a great team we are. Time to merge and commit.”

Using a simple merge workflow, users can mark merge changes as resolved and commit the new-and-improved file back into the project environment.

6. Rinse. Repeat.

And that's it! You'll use some variation of this approach to fuel your development process over and over again, across 1000s and 1000s of files, across your SVN project repos. The effectiveness of your development approach, however, will hinge on whether your SVN hosting platform is the best fit within your organization.

Have multiple SVN repositories? Learn how to manage them >>

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Why Helix Core Is the Best SVN Alternative

Why pay to host a broken VCS and struggle with how to use SVN when you could upgrade to a VCS that’s fast enough for your team?

Many teams need a VCS that scales, has faster performance, supports global teams, and meets their security and regulation needs. Overcome the development challenges of SVN by moving to Helix Core.

Helix Core is the fastest version control software on seven continents. You can securely manage all digital content in a single repository. With Helix Core, you get:

  • A single source of truth
  • Workflow freedom
  • Flexible branching
  • Easy-to-use apps
  • Security and protection

Helix Core is free for small teams — up to 5 users and 20 workspaces. Get started today.

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