Subversive Joy

October 20, 2005

A year and a half ago, when I started working at my company, one of the first things I saw was the version control they used: Visual Source Safe. My immediate reaction was, “Why don’t we ditch this crap and use a real version control tool like Subversion, or at least CVS.” Unsurprisingly, the response was, “We’d love to ditch this crap, but we can’t afford to right now, and we don’t know what we want to switch to anyway.” So began our journey.

The first task set before us was to decide which version control we wanted to switch to. There was Vault, which would have theoretically been a drop-in replacement. I like Eric, but I don’t like the VSS/Vault paradigm. Another contender was StarTeam, since we’re a Delphi shop, but it is expensive. There were a few other contenders as well, but they all had one thing in common: they cost money. I sat in the corner as this list was assembled and kept piping up, “What about Subversion? It’s fast, it’s fully- featured, and it’s free.” It was added to the list, but not as a serious contender for starters.

Then I bought Pragmatic Version Control Using Subversion, and devoured it. I hadn’t even known how cool Subversion was, and now I really wanted to use it. The first thing I did upon completing the book was give it to the senior engineer in charge of deciding what we were going to move to. He worked his way through the book and agreed with me: it was cool. Finally, Subversion won the Jolt award last year, so it was decided. Needless to say, I was excited.

That was months ago. We were in the middle of a big development push and couldn’t afford the time to port everything over. So, it was decided when we released, we’d switch. Well, that time came and went in late August, and we are still on VSS. We have, however, finally been feeling severe pain about merging and various other activities in version control. So, I finally got the go ahead to start working on it. Today I set up our Subversion server and got it ready for prime time usage (pending blog post about how). Tomorrow I will actually move our source tree into Subversion. Next week, we’ll cut over. I am very excited.

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