Windows Client for Subversion – TortoiseSVN

The client was the biggest adjustment I needed to make when switching from Visual SourceSafe (VSS) to Subversion. A VSS client was integrated with Visual Studio, which meant you could do most things related to source control through Visual Studio.  So when I it started looking at Subversion, the first client I tried integrated into Visual Studio, but I couldn’t get it working properly.

I ended up installing TortoiseSVN, which adds the source control functionality to Windows Explorer. I was skeptical because I though it would be a pain to go to Windows Explorer whenever I wanted to interact with Subversion, but I was wrong. I quickly got used to working with Subversion in this manner.

Probably the biggest advantage of working with TortoiseSVN is that I can have multiple working copies of a project. For example, I can have a copy on my development machine, on our test server, and our production server. When I want to see what has changed between the repository and the working version, I simply use the “Check for modifications” command of TortoiseSVN. This tells you what files have changed, and has a pretty good diff tool to show how those files changed.

Because TortoiseSVN integrates with Windows Explorer, rather than Visual Studio, it can be used by people that don’t use Visual Studio. This is important to us because some design changes are made directly on a test server, not on a developer’s computer. TortoiseSVN will save a ton of time in keeping these changes in sync.

All of this works because by default, Subversion uses an edit-merge-commit model, rather than the checkout-edit-checkin model used by VSS. The differences are explained in Chapter 2: Checkins of Eric Sink’s series on source control. At first this change of models sounded strange to me, but I found that the edit-merge-commit model really does work better for some of the things we’ve been doing with projects.

I’ve been running Subversion and TortoiseSVN in a test environment for about 6 weeks. So far, I’ve been extremely pleased in how it’s working.

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