It is important not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good, even when you can agree on what perfect is. Doubly so when you can't. As unpleasant as it is to be trapped by past mistakes, you can't make any progress by being afraid of your own shadow during design.

 --Greg Hudson

In the world of open-source software, the Concurrent Versions System (CVS) was the tool of choice for version control for many years. And rightly so. CVS was open-source software itself, and its non-restrictive modus operandi and support for networked operation allowed dozens of geographically dispersed programmers to share their work. It fit the collaborative nature of the open-source world very well. CVS and its semi-chaotic development model have since become cornerstones of open-source culture.

But CVS was not without its flaws, and simply fixing those flaws promised to be an enormous effort. Enter Subversion. Designed to be a successor to CVS, Subversion's originators set out to win the hearts of CVS users in two ways—by creating an open-source system with a design (and “look and feel”) similar to CVS, and by attempting to avoid most of CVS's noticeable flaws. While the result isn't necessarily the next great evolution in version control design, Subversion is very powerful, very usable, and very flexible. And for the most part, almost all newly-started open-source projects now choose Subversion instead of CVS.

This book is written to document the 1.5 series of the Subversion version control system. We have made every attempt to be thorough in our coverage. However, Subversion has a thriving and energetic development community, so there are already a number of features and improvements planned for future versions of Subversion that may change some of the commands and specific notes in this book.