SVN Tools – Getting Started with Source Control

Summary of article:

This week we are going back to basics and talking about an important topic for any type of developer, Source Control Management.

What is SVN?

SVN is a common abbreviation used by programmers for Subversion. It is a repository where code and other files can be stored. Both the current version as well as historical copies of previous versions are stored within this repository.

Basic SVN Commands

  • Add
  • Checking Out
  • Update
  • Commit

When you start out with SVN you will need to use the “Add” command to create a new folder or “Add” a file. If you are working with an existing repository, you can use the “Check Out” command to make your own copy of a folder from SVN. If changes are made to the SVN folder after you check it out you can use the “Update” command to sync your local copy of the folder with what is now in SVN. After you have made your changes you will want to check them back into SVN using the “Commit” command.

Commit Small and Often

When you start out with SVN it is easy to get into the habit of checking in all of you code changes at once. If you lump all of your days or weeks changes together it makes it much harder to manage the code. To get the most out of SVN you will want to check in smaller more logical chunks of code. If you make a bug fix in the code check that individual bug fix in with its own commit, don’t let your changes build up.

Advanced SVN Commands

  • Branch – Creates a copy of a
  • Merge
  • Diff

SVN is more than just a backup system for your files. It allows a team or a single developer to track and manage changes they have made to the code base. You can create copies or “Branches” of your project, allowing you to develop and test new features before intergrating or “Merging” them back into your main code or “Trunk”. Multiple branches are supported so developers can independently work on adding features to the same project. When your changes are ready to be merged back into the trunk you can view all of the changes between two versions of the code using the “Diff” feature.

SVN Software

There are a number of SVN servers and even more clients. Here is a SVN Server and Client that I recommend you give a try if you are new to SVN.

If you are working with a team, you will want to check what software they may already be using. As you would not want to setup another SVN environment, if there is already one in use.

VisualSVN – SVN Server

Visual SVN is an easy to use and fully functional SVN server built for the Windows Platform.

Visual SVN Server is available at http://www.visualsvn.com/server/ . Once you have downloaded and installed the Visual SVN Server check out the Getting Started section of their website for details on configuring your SVN Server.

TortoiseSVN – SVN Client

TortoiseSVN is an easy to use SVN Client for Windows machines. It gives you a nice UI so you don’t have to be typing out commands. It even hooks into the file explorer, so you can quickly check in changes.

TortoiseSVN is available at http://tortoisesvn.net/ .

Here is a quick video to get you started with TortoiseSVN.

For more information on using TortoiseSVN Client check out the tutorial at http://www.igorexchange.com/node/87 .

Other Flavors of Source Control

SVN is not your only choice for version control like Mercurial, CSV or Perforce. A couple of note for CRM Developers are:

Team Foundation Server (TFS)

As many Dynamics CRM Developers work for Microsoft Shops, a talk about source control would not be completed without mentioning Microsoft’s application lifecycle management solution called Team Foundation Server (TFS). TFS is more than just source code management and includes Work Item Tracking, Build Automation, Reporting and Project Management.

If you are looking to create a collaborative and agile team you should take a look at implementing Team Foundation Server.

TFS is not a quick install and your done deal, it is a change in the way of life for your developers, testers and project managers. You wouldn’t just install CRM for a sales team and walk away thinking that they will suddenly become this well oiled sale closing machine because you have installed a great program for them to use. There is a lot of up front time investment to get your team off the ground with TFS, but the investment can payoff in the long run.

GIT

Unlike most other source code management systems GIT creates a local repository on your machine. As needed you can update your repository by “pulling” down the latest version from a remote repository. If you have changes you would like to have added to the remote repository you can “Push” them up to the server. This pushing and pulling concept has made GIT widely used with the Open Source Community.

With other source control systems you are connecting directly with a central repository server every time you check code out or commit changes. This can be a problem if you are disconnected from the network. If you spend the day out of the office working on your laptop you have to wait until you get an internet connection before you can check in your changes.

You can download GIT through http://git-scm.com/ . Their site also has some great information in the Documentation section to get you started with GIT and source control.

GitHub

GitHub is a hosting provider for GIT repositories. They offer free hosting for Open Source projects, and you will find that many open source projects have taken them up on this offer.

The recently released a windows client, which you can download from http://windows.github.com/ . As an added bonus the client is built using the Metro UI, so

 

 

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