Subversion SCM Tool Gets Update

Development tools company CollabNet Corp. has updated its open source software configuration-management tool. Subversion 1.5, released late last month, is the most substantial update to the popular build- and change-management package since the initial release of the software more than four years ago, the company says.

CollabNet says the new release offers significantly improved merge-tracking capabilities, which give developers greater insight and control over branched and merged code. Features such as interactive conflict resolution and merge histories and logs help users resolve issues and more easily back out of problematic changes.

'The Final Frontier'
The company also added support for sparse checkouts, useful for when developers want to check out only part of a larger source tree. The new features address what industry analyst Peter Varhol calls "the final frontier" of software-development process automation. He says many companies still rely on a guru to write and tune scripts that drive branch management and merge tracking.

"Anything that can help automate what is still largely a manual process in the software-development process is a good thing," says Varhol, who is principal of research firm Technology Strategy Research LLC in Nashua, N.H.

Subversion 1.5 also offers performance improvements. Repository sharing and partitioning distributes storage across the storage infrastructure, while a proxying system balances read-loads among multiple repository servers, according to CollabNet.

Subversion has emerged as a leading open source application lifecycle-management solution, says Gartner Inc. Research Vice President Jim Duggan.

"It has been the fastest-growing open source offering for some time," Duggan says. "Many CVS users have shifted and all should." Duggan anticipates that Subversion will replace many Microsoft Visual SourceSafe and Serena Software PVCS deployments among smaller dev shops.

ZJim Duggan Quote

.NET Hooks
CollabNet still has work to do if it is to gain more interest from .NET developers. The company touts plug-in integration with the open source Eclipse IDE, but Visual Studio (VS) integration remains in the works. Duggan says CollabNet needs to deliver a robust Visual Studio plug-in if it hopes to win over .NET shops.

"Up until [version] 1.5, this was a major objection. It really has to be integrated with Visual Studio to get to the 20 percent of shops that are pure Microsoft," says Duggan. "The 60 percent that are both [Eclipse and VS] are likely to really want VS support -- more so the more they use VS."

CollabNet Subversion 1.5 is available for Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, as well as for the Red Hat Linux and Sun Solaris operating systems. Specific Windows-based integrations of Subversion 1.5 are available for the Eclipse IDE, HP Quality Center and IBM Rational ClearCase.

Subversion 1.5 can be downloaded from

About the Author

Michael Desmond is the founding editor of Redmond Developer News. Contact him at [email protected].