Difference between revisions of "Why Subversion sucks"

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* No support for branching and merging branches.
* No support for branching and merging branches.

Revision as of 02:04, 17 June 2006

OK, the title may be a bit hard. Here is just a short collection of things I (TobiX) find annoying about Subversion. If you also don't like Subversion that much, feel free to add your own list. If something I say here is wrong, please leave a note. But I am forced to use Subversion in some cases...

  • Merging is not history-sensitive - Subversion does not record what was merged. Or as the Subversion book says:
Ideally, your version control system should prevent the double-application of changes to a branch. It should automatically remember which changes a branch has already received, and be able to list them for you. It should use this information to help automate merges as much as possible.
Unfortunately, Subversion is not such a system. Like CVS, Subversion does not yet record any information about merge operations. When you commit local modifications, the repository has no idea whether those changes came from running svn merge, or from just hand-editing the files.
  • Diffing between branches is overly complicated. Example: Diff the current version of a file against the last release:
svn info
svn ls svn+ssh://.../tags
svn diff --old svn+ssh://.../tags/tag --new svn+ssh://.../trunk/ file with path
The svn info was for: "Duh, what was the repository URL again?"
Comment: You're making this a lot more difficult than it needs to be. There are diff tools that simplify this quite a bit.
Sorry, I didn't find any. Can you give me some pointers? I prefer CLI tools. TobiX 20:46, 18 Aug 2005 (CEST)
Compare that with CVS (not my version system of choice, but everyone knows it):
cvs log file | head -50
cvs diff -r tag -r HEAD file
  • Why do I have to use the reposity URLs all over the place? I want something like tla register-archive for Subversion.
  • The Subversion "revision numbers" are mostly meaningless. The CVS version numbers at least told me if I was working on HEAD or at a branch. The Arch version numbers are strict, but carry much meta-information, like the name of the branch or the state of the current working tree.
Comment: If these are your biggest complaints with Subversion then I would say that you should be promoting Subversion, not putting it down.
I think that history-sensitive merging is a feature a modern SCM really should have. That is my number one critic of Subversion. TobiX 20:46, 18 Aug 2005 (CEST)

  • Subversion cannot force checkout. I want version control for my dotfiles. Tla and Darcs failed horribly, subversion works with some problems. What bugs me most: If a directory already exists (like .gnome) the checkout aborts, there is no way to force the checkout. I have to move the dir away, run svn and merge the two directories by hand. Desired behaviour would be to put the dir under svn control, overwrite all files which are found in the repo and leave the rest alone. Btw, it is impossible to checkout /home/user/.ssh like this if your access method is svn+ssh ;)

-- 14:57, 31 Aug 2005 (CEST)pzzzp

  • Subversion does not support atomic checkout. You can get errors during a commit or update and wind up with a database or local machine in an inconsistent state.
  • Subversion is miserably slow, probably on the order of 100x the amount of time required for a similar operation using Perforce.
  • During an update or a commit you may get common errors that completely halt operation, such as a failed add. There's no reason for this to halt the operation, it can be handled like normal conflicts.
  • No support for branching and merging branches.