Automatic Property Setting

Properties are a powerful feature of Subversion, acting as key components of many Subversion features discussed elsewhere in this and other chapters—textual diff and merge support, keyword substitution, newline translation, etc. But to get the full benefit of properties, they must be set on the right files and directories. Unfortunately, that step can be easily forgotten in the routine of things, especially since failing to set a property doesn't usually result in an obvious error (at least compared to, say, failing to add a file to version control). To help your properties get applied to the places that need them, Subversion provides a couple of simple but useful features.

Whenever you introduce a file to version control using the svn add or svn import commands, Subversion tries to assist by setting some common file properties automatically. First, on operating systems whose filesystems support an execute permission bit, Subversion will automatically set the svn:executable property on newly added or imported files whose execute bit is enabled. (See the section called “File Executability” later in this chapter for more about this property.)

Secondly, Subversion tries to determine the file's MIME type. If you've configured a mime-types-files runtime configuration parameter, Subversion will try to find a MIME type mapping in that file for your file's extension. If it finds such a mapping, it will set your file's svn:mime-type property to the MIME type it found. If no mapping file is configured, or no mapping for your file's extension could be found, Subversion runs a very basic heuristic to determine if the file contains nontextual content. If so, it automatically sets the svn:mime-type property on that file to application/octet-stream (the generic “this is a collection of bytes” MIME type). Of course, if Subversion guesses incorrectly, or if you wish to set the svn:mime-type property to something more precise—perhaps image/png or application/x-shockwave-flash—you can always remove or edit that property. (For more on Subversion's use of MIME types, see the section called “File Content Type” later in this chapter.)

Subversion also provides, via its runtime configuration system (see the section called “Runtime Configuration Area”), a more flexible automatic property setting feature that allows you to create mappings of filename patterns to property names and values. Once again, these mappings affect adds and imports, and can not only override the default MIME type decision made by Subversion during those operations, but can also set additional Subversion or custom properties, too. For example, you might create a mapping that says that any time you add JPEG files—ones whose names match the pattern *.jpg—Subversion should automatically set the svn:mime-type property on those files to image/jpeg. Or perhaps any files that match *.cpp should have svn:eol-style set to native, and svn:keywords set to Id. Automatic property support is perhaps the handiest property related tool in the Subversion toolbox. See the section called “Config” for more about configuring that support.