Version Control with Subversion

by Piotr Likus on October 17, 2015
Item Reviewed

Version Control with Subversion

October 17, 2015
Book author(s)

C. Michael Pilato, Ben Collins-Sussman, Brian W. Fitzpatrick


O'Reilly Media


978-0-596-51033-6, 0-596-51033-0



Publication year



Subversion (also known as “svn”) was for the first time released in year 2000. It was designed as a replacement for old CVS tool. It’s very easy to use and you can think that reading a book about it is too much. I can partially agree on that. Normally I would recommend for such a tool reading built-in help (see “svn help” command) or searching through internet. But sometimes tools introduce new ideas and approaches to already known and well-understood processes. This situation happens with Subversion. And it’s pity not many people read books about it.

About the book

“Version Control with Subversion” can be described as printed-out full manual for Subversion. It’s not boring though. I just found it a little too long, probably because it contains a lot more than I needed. This book is like a Bible for Subversion. It covers everything you need to know and a little more. What is great about this book is that it is freely available in electronic form (see link below). So even when you buy it in a paper form, you can still get updates for the most recent Subversion release. The printed book version I’ve read (2nd edition) covers Subversion up to 1.5. I found it very useful to read about branching patterns and how to use locks. It was also good to read how to resolve merging conflicts. Probably for most of users server & repository administration can be skipped.

What You Will Learn

  • what kind of repository URLs you can use
  • basic commands: syntax & description
  • change sets: what is it and how to use it
  • locks: when and how you should use them
  • properties: basic administration
  • branching patterns
    • release branching
    • feature branching
    • vendor branching
  • server administration (configuration, security, backups, hooks)
  • repository administration


To summarize, I would recommend this book to developers and administrators willing to create or maintain Subversion repositories from the scratch. If you are looking just for command reference, this book is a overkill, but it’s well organized and parts you will be searching for (command reference) are all in one place. Book is constantly updated (last change made this year, book ready for download for Subversion 1.8), so even if you need a printed version, you can buy it and look for updates in electronic form.


Book home page: Version Control with Subversion – you can find there free, updated on-line edition of this book.


* comprehensive command reference
* branch approaches descriptions
* more than just a command reference (a lot more)


* outdated - covers Subversion 1.5 (2008-2010), but updates available (PDF)

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A Bible for version control tool. Useful if you have doubts about your branching approach or server configuration.

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