Merging Conflicts by Hand

Merging conflicts by hand can be quite intimidating the first time you attempt it, but with a little practice, it can become as easy as falling off a bike.

Here's an example. Due to a miscommunication, you and Sally, your collaborator, both edit the file sandwich.txt at the same time. Sally commits her changes, and when you go to update your working copy, you get a conflict and you're going to have to edit sandwich.txt to resolve the conflicts. First, let's take a look at the file:

$ cat sandwich.txt
Top piece of bread
Mayonnaise
Lettuce
Tomato
Provolone
<<<<<<< .mine
Salami
Mortadella
Prosciutto
=======
Sauerkraut
Grilled Chicken
>>>>>>> .r2
Creole Mustard
Bottom piece of bread

The strings of less-than signs, equal signs, and greater-than signs are conflict markers, and are not part of the actual data in conflict. You generally want to ensure that those are removed from the file before your next commit. The text between the first two sets of markers is composed of the changes you made in the conflicting area:

<<<<<<< .mine
Salami
Mortadella
Prosciutto
=======

The text between the second and third sets of conflict markers is the text from Sally's commit:

=======
Sauerkraut
Grilled Chicken
>>>>>>> .r2

Usually you won't want to just delete the conflict markers and Sally's changes—she's going to be awfully surprised when the sandwich arrives and it's not what she wanted. So this is where you pick up the phone or walk across the office and explain to Sally that you can't get sauerkraut from an Italian deli.[7] Once you've agreed on the changes you will check in, edit your file and remove the conflict markers.

Top piece of bread
Mayonnaise
Lettuce
Tomato
Provolone
Salami
Mortadella
Prosciutto
Creole Mustard
Bottom piece of bread

Now run svn resolved, and you're ready to commit your changes:

$ svn resolved sandwich.txt
$ svn commit -m "Go ahead and use my sandwich, discarding Sally's edits."

Note that svn resolved, unlike most of the other commands we deal with in this chapter, requires an argument. In any case, you want to be careful and only run svn resolved when you're certain that you've fixed the conflict in your file—once the temporary files are removed, Subversion will let you commit the file even if it still contains conflict markers.

If you ever get confused while editing the conflicted file, you can always consult the three files that Subversion creates for you in your working copy—including your file as it was before you updated. You can even use a third-party interactive merging tool to examine those three files.



[7] And if you ask them for it, they may very well ride you out of town on a rail.