The Apache Portable Runtime Library

Along with Subversion's own datatypes, you will see many references to datatypes that begin with apr_—symbols from the Apache Portable Runtime (APR) library. APR is Apache's portability library, originally carved out of its server code as an attempt to separate the OS-specific bits from the OS-independent portions of the code. The result was a library that provides a generic API for performing operations that differ mildly—or wildly—from OS to OS. While the Apache HTTP Server was obviously the first user of the APR library, the Subversion developers immediately recognized the value of using APR as well. This means that there is practically no OS-specific code in Subversion itself. Also, it means that the Subversion client compiles and runs anywhere that Apache HTTP Server itself does. Currently this list includes all flavors of Unix, Win32, BeOS, OS/2, and Mac OS X.

In addition to providing consistent implementations of system calls that differ across operating systems, [53] APR gives Subversion immediate access to many custom datatypes, such as dynamic arrays and hash tables. Subversion uses these types extensively. But perhaps the most pervasive APR datatype, found in nearly every Subversion API prototype, is the apr_pool_t—the APR memory pool. Subversion uses pools internally for all its memory allocation needs (unless an external library requires a different memory management mechanism for data passed through its API), [54] and while a person coding against the Subversion APIs is not required to do the same, they are required to provide pools to the API functions that need them. This means that users of the Subversion API must also link against APR, must call apr_initialize() to initialize the APR subsystem, and then must create and manage pools for use with Subversion API calls, typically by using svn_pool_create(), svn_pool_clear(), and svn_pool_destroy().

[53] Subversion uses ANSI system calls and datatypes as much as possible.

[54] Neon and Berkeley DB are examples of such libraries.

[55] Or at least make it something you only toy with when doing extremely tight program optimization.