Client Layer

On the client side, the Subversion working copy is where all the action takes place. The bulk of functionality implemented by the client-side libraries exists for the sole purpose of managing working copies—directories full of files and other subdirectories which serve as a sort of local, editable “reflection” of one or more repository locations—and propagating changes to and from the Repository Access layer.

Subversion's working copy library, libsvn_wc, is directly responsible for managing the data in the working copies. To accomplish this, the library stores administrative information about each working copy directory within a special subdirectory. This subdirectory, named .svn, is present in each working copy directory and contains various other files and directories which record state and provide a private workspace for administrative action. For those familiar with CVS, this .svn subdirectory is similar in purpose to the CVS administrative directories found in CVS working copies. For more information about the .svn administrative area, see the section called “Inside the Working Copy Administration Area”in this chapter.

The Subversion client library, libsvn_client, has the broadest responsibility; its job is to mingle the functionality of the working copy library with that of the Repository Access Layer, and then to provide the highest-level API to any application that wishes to perform general revision control actions. For example, the function svn_client_checkout() takes a URL as an argument. It passes this URL to the RA layer and opens an authenticated session with a particular repository. It then asks the repository for a certain tree, and sends this tree into the working copy library, which then writes a full working copy to disk (.svn directories and all).

The client library is designed to be used by any application. While the Subversion source code includes a standard command-line client, it should be very easy to write any number of GUI clients on top of the client library. New GUIs (or any new client, really) for Subversion need not be clunky wrappers around the included command-line client—they have full access via the libsvn_client API to same functionality, data, and callback mechanisms that the command-line client uses. In fact, the Subversion source code tree contains a small C program (which can be found at tools/examples/minimal_client.c that exemplifies how to wield the Subversion API to create a simple client program