Monthly Archive for March, 2011

Subversion 1.7: What’s taking so long?

One of the most common questions I’ve been asked during the recent round of Subversion Live conferences is “When is 1.7 going to be done?”  My answer for the last few months has been “I expect we’ll branch in a month of two, and release a month or two after that.”  In an effort to help folks understand that answer, I offer the following.  (And of course, in saying all this, I’m speaking for myself, not in any official capacity for the Apache Subversion project.)

Version control itself is a hard problem to solve, and no system out there gets it completely right.  Subversion’s strategy of versioning files and directories in a centralized repository works great in the vast majority of use cases, particularly those in enterprise environments.  Subversion 1.7 represents an effort to start to address some of the scalability and performance issues encountered by large Subversion deployments, especially those found on the client-side.  The working copy metadata rewrite (WC-NG) is the key to this effort.

In a way, Subversion has fallen victim to its own success: so many people have deployed Subversion, and it is used in so many different ways that rewriting such a core component as the working copy library, all while maintaining existing behaviors, compatibilities and even bugs, turns out to be a very big job.  Much bigger than any of the developers initially anticipated.  And that’s just one feature: considering all the other bug fixes and feature enhancements which are also slated for 1.7, it’s a miracle we’re as far along as we are.

Releasing Subversion isn’t as simple as releasing a web browser or word processor.  If your browser crashes, you have a good moan, fire it back up, maybe send a bug report, and then continue doing whatever it was you were doing.  If your Subversion repository is corrupted, the data is gone, and most likely so are you as a user.  As Subversion developers, we don’t get a second chance with your data, which makes us very conservative when it comes time to push out a major new feature release.

Right now the work focuses on finding and eliminating performance bottlenecks, and squishing major bugs.  There are still somewhere around 30 outstanding bugs considered blockers for a 1.7 release.  The developers think the work the rest of the work is well-scoped, but we could always be in for some unexpected surprises.  So we just keep plodding along in our loosely-joined community of open source development, just like we always have.

One of the nifty things about this entire process, though, is that it all happens in the open, and you can be a part of it.  Whether it be testing the new tools and functionality in Subversion 1.7, running performance tests, or just using a relatively recent version of the nightly builds in your everyday work, your feedback is invaluable to making Subversion 1.7 the best it can be, and sooner, too.  So join a mailing list, post a bug report, or just start contributing.  We’re looking forward to having you on board.

Subversion 1.7 won’t be bug-free—no software ever is—but we’re doing out best to make Subversion 1.7 the best version of Apache Subversion yet.  Your data depends on it.

Experian Sees the Light

Experian Moves to WAndisco for "Serious Subversion Support"

I’m really delighted with the announcement today.

Experian moved their open source subversion support to WANdisco. Of course I think they made the right choice and I must admit that they were at the forefront of my mind when I was writing the prior blog post [How to Choose an Open Source (Subversion) Support Provider].

It’s good to hear that we were able to step in and help here:

We get immediate responses from WANdisco. All we have to do is pick up the phone and our questions get answered

With our last Subversion support vendor it was difficult to reach a live person. Everything had to be done through their portal. Response times were slow and most of our tickets were never really resolved.”

At WANdisco we do try and do the right thing. Sometimes that might lead to controversy like our commitment to fix branching and merging.  I’m still not sure why certain people / organizations take such great umbrage to that.  Maybe they feel threatened or even want to distract attention from the real agenda.

Either way I am proud that we are able to provide real, serious support for the Apache Subversion open source project.

On a different and very sad topic the situation in Japan is just terrible.  The number of confirmed dead and missing now stands at nearly 13,000 while some 450,000 people have been staying in temporary shelters amid sub-zero night-time temperatures. We have an office in Tokyo and our friends Tanigowa-san and Yamamot-san and their families are thankfully safe. There’s very little we can do from thousands of miles away but we have donated to the Red Cross – Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Appeal and we have also placed a link in the header of our website.

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About David Richards

David is CEO, President and co-founder of WANdisco and has quickly established WANdisco as one of the world’s most promising technology companies.

Since co-founding the company in Silicon Valley in 2005, David has led WANdisco on a course for rapid international expansion, opening offices in the UK, Japan and China. David spearheaded the acquisition of Altostor, which accelerated the development of WANdisco’s first products for the Big Data market. The majority of WANdisco’s core technology is now produced out of the company’s flourishing software development base in David’s hometown of Sheffield, England and in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

David has become recognised as a champion of British technology and entrepreneurship. In 2012, he led WANdisco to a hugely successful listing on London Stock Exchange (WAND:LSE), raising over £24m to drive business growth.

With over 15 years’ executive experience in the software industry, David sits on a number of advisory and executive boards of Silicon Valley start-up ventures. A passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, he has established many successful start-up companies in Enterprise Software and is recognised as an industry leader in Enterprise Application Integration and its standards.

David is a frequent commentator on a range of business and technology issues, appearing regularly on Bloomberg and CNBC. Profiles of David have appeared in a range of leading publications including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.

Specialties:IPO’s, Startups, Entrepreneurship, CEO, Visionary, Investor, ceo, board member, advisor, venture capital, offshore development, financing, M&A

SVNref Cards – Free Cheat Sheets for Subversion Developers and Administrators

In conjunction with our free Subversion training webinars we’re building a library of free cheat sheets for developers and administrators that we call SVNref Cards. Based on the highlights from each webinar, SVNref Cards are written by active members of the Apache Subversion project. Their easy to use format focuses on the most important concepts from each session and illustrates them with practical examples.

We introduced SVNref Cards after one of our most popular sessions, Hidden Subversion, which had over a thousand attendees. Since then, we’ve followed up with one for each webinar. Anyone who registers for a free Subversion training webinar receives an SVNref Card for that session automatically. If you miss a session you can download them anytime and stay up-to-date with the latest tips and tricks.

Our rapidly expanding library includes:

Hidden Subversion – An inventory of powerful, but relatively unknown and seldom used Subversion features.

Subversion Administration Best Practices – A quick reference guide covering administration policies and procedures, repository organization, backup and recovery and hook script usage.

Introduction to Branching and Merging – A review of branching and merging basics and merge conflict resolution.

Advanced Branching and Merging – Picks up where the introduction leaves off with examples of merge types, use of mergeinfo, analysis of branches using revision graphs and enforcement of standards.

WANdisco provides SVNref Cards and the free training webinars they’re based on to promote Subversion’s use and adoption, benefiting the entire community. We’re even planning to make recordings of our free training webinars available in response to the thousands of requests we’ve had since we began offering them nearly a year ago. Of course, if more extensive Subversion training, support, or other services are required, WANdisco has those too.

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About Jim Campigli

Our Initial Thoughts

Where did February go?  As a resident of Massachusetts, parts of me (namely my back, shoulders and arms) are quite happy to see those weeks get crossed off the calendar.  Since my last posting here, I’ve not only been shoveling snow though.   Two separate Subversion Live events were held,first in San Jose and then two weeks later in London.

Both days were extremely fruitful for those of us from WANdisco that attended and I hope our attendees felt the same way.   The presentations in the various tracks were well attended, very professional and well received. A great source of information exchange was the roundtable sessions at the conclusion of each day. But what I always find most useful at events like this are the less formal conversations that occur prior to a session, or during a break, or over lunch.  Not surprisingly, inquiries about what our committers were looking to do with regard to enhancing Subversion merge support was the most frequent topic raised and the subsequent discussions and feedback we received was extremely valuable.

So with that information in hand, here’s what is being initially targeted:

  • Better handling of renames across merges
  • partially automated merges
  • Faster merges – improving performance of merge operations
  • Enhancements to importing to handle 3rd Party / Vendor source code

This is really just an initial list. The team is actually still quite busy at the moment working on the final aspects of Subversion 1.7.  But we are also still in active discussions about other use cases that have been raised and additional ideas may still be formulated and as those become more concrete, I’ll be quite happy to write about them here.

By the way, if you are still interested in attending Subversion Live, February’s weather pattern here in the Northeastern U.S. has accommodated you! Our Boston event scheduled for early February has been rescheduled for Tuesday, March 22. The same great agenda awaits but thankfully, the snow may not. I hope to see many of you in Boston and I’d welcome the chance to listen and learn from your experience.

– Rob

P.S.  I really did have to shovel a lot, including my roof!

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About rbudas

Rob Budas has over 25 years of software industry experience, with the last 15 years focused on the Software Configuration Management sector. Prior to joining WANdisco, Rob had worked at IBM Rational for 8 years where he was a Sr. Product Manager for Rational ClearCase. He has held various development, technical sales and product management roles throughout his career. Rob holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer and Communication Science from the University of Michigan.

We’re First Again with Certified Binaries for the Latest Release of Apache Subversion

How and Why Do We Do it Every Time?

The Subversion community just announced the release of Subversion 1.6.16. Moments later, WANdisco announced the availability of its fully tested, certified Subversion binaries for this new release. Before we make these pure, certified binaries available for free download under the Apache 2.0 license, we put them through the same QA processes we use for our enterprise products that support Subversion deployments with tens of thousands of users processing millions of transactions each day. And because we verify that these binaries are pure, unmodified open source before we make them available, there’s no risk of being blindsided by IP infringement claims when you use them, or getting forced down the path of implementing proprietary solutions for defect tracking and other applications with Subversion.

The reason we’re able to accomplish this so quickly with every release is that WANdisco is committed to Subversion’s success and we’ve backed that commitment with our own very talented resources. First and foremost, these resources include core Subversion developers who have become our employees. These individuals have been a part of the project since the beginning and they have the status within the community to make changes to Subversion’s code base. They’re actively involved with the rest of the Subversion community from the time a new release is in the planning stages until it’s publicly available. And they’re led by Hyrum Wright, WANdisco’s Director of Open Source and the release manager for the Subversion project since 2008.

In fact the bug (CVE-2011-0715) was reported by Philip Martin, one of our very talented, full-time Subversion developers.

There’s no denying that WANdisco has an interest in Subversion’s continued success, particularly with large enterprises that have adopted it so enthusiastically over the last few years. But at the same time that this rapid adoption has validated Subversion’s success, it’s placed demands on the project to meet the kind of tough requirements that these large enterprises have. In addition, they have clear requirements for enterprise class support that’s on a par with the support services available for closed source solutions, as well as professional training and consulting services.

At WANdisco we’ve hired senior Subversion committers, offered enterprise class Subversion support, provided free training webinars , as well as paid for training classes, hosted our Subversion Live user conferences where attendees meet with committers in person, and become corporate sponsors of the Apache Software Foundation. We’ve also taken the lead on fixing branching and merging, a requirement that’s been out there since 2007 waiting to be addressed. We’ve done all of these things not because they are easy and make good press, but because they are required for Subversion to continue on its very successful path. That’s something we all have a stake in.

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About Jim Campigli

How to Choose an Open Source (Subversion) Support Provider.

Open source support can be a lucrative business for software vendors.  It’s kind of necessary for large organizations that cannot implement any software without support.  But not all support is the same.  Some companies offer support that they have difficulty really fulfilling.  I have tried to come up with a checklist to help you decide which vendor you should choose.

1. Do they have full committers on the project?

In his book “Producing Open Source Software”, Karl Fogel discusses the critical role of committers on an open source project: “The project cannot rely on people’s own judgment; it must impose standards and grant commit access only to those who meet them.”  Take the inverse; suppose your support provider does not have committers.  Do they really understand the code?  Can they recognize a bug?  Can they even propose a code change to the community?

2. Do they have global scale?

Let’s say you have developers in N. America, Europe, India and China.  You will more than likely need 24×7 global, follow-the-sun support.  Easier said than done.  Some people solve this with low-cost support centers. But how much do they know about your open source product and do you know that your confidential data is safe?

3. What support systems do they have?

Can you dial a number and get someone on the line in your time-zone?  Can you have multiple internal people see and manage support tickets? Is there a knowledge base?   I even heard one story where a Subversion support organization wanted to use Skype to transfer a customers confidential Subversion files for analysis – now that’s a big red flag!

4. Do they care? Are they passionate about this stuff?

It goes without saying; but to provide great service then you really have to care.  Part of the goal of open source support is to provide direct feedback to make the open source product better.  Support providers that care are more than just an insurance policy they are doing it because they care about the future of the open source product they are supporting.

5. Don’t buy just an insurance policy.

Open source support providers love selling insurance only.  Why?  It’s easy.  You’re paying for something that you might use once in a blue moon and the margins on that are huge.  Really ask yourself if the provider could fix a corrupted repository or provide impartial advice on tuning your Subversion implementation for maximum performance?

6. Don’t be fooled into using their modified version of the OSS.

One of the big reasons to use open source software is to avoid vendor lock-in.  You should be careful to read what it says on the tin.  Subversion, for example, is licensed under the Apache License, which pretty much allows free use of the software for any purpose (distribute, modify, etc).  Other, modified versions of Subversion may be licensed under more stringent license terms as either a proprietary license or even GPLv3 which Steve Ballmer referred to as “”a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches”.

7. Does their business model conflict?

Why is the provider offering open source support?  To make money?  To create demand for other products or services?  Because the market needs them to?  Whatever the reason it should be a good one.  I hope it’s not just to make money J

8. Check out references?

In our space, Subversion Support, there are so many horror stories.  Support tickets unanswered for months (and even years),  inadequate support systems,  lack of knowledgeable staff,  using partners to fulfill contracts who have not received adequate training, lack of integration with open source committers.  Just like any enterprise purchase check out a couple of references.

9. Ask a few questions upfront, test them!

Some of our support customers have done this and I think it’s pretty clever.  They say, “Well if you’re better than company X then you should be able to answer this, because they couldn’t”.  And they provide a list of say 3,4 or 5 questions.  Maybe they could even be items that your current provider failed to answer adequately.  However you do it.  I would do it upfront.

10: Pick WANdisco for Subversion support 🙂

Look finding ten very different things is tough OK 🙂 and let’s face it I am biased. But the advice above is good. Before we had full time core developers on the Subversion project we could not offer Subversion support. If you just paid $100K for a new Ferrari would you get it serviced by a one-man-and-his-dog outfit operating out of their home? Would you trust a company that only used the cheapest of the cheapest resources thousands of miles away with inadequate systems and untrained staff? Would you trust a company that couldn’t answer a few softball questions you threw at them?

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About David Richards

David is CEO, President and co-founder of WANdisco and has quickly established WANdisco as one of the world’s most promising technology companies.

Since co-founding the company in Silicon Valley in 2005, David has led WANdisco on a course for rapid international expansion, opening offices in the UK, Japan and China. David spearheaded the acquisition of Altostor, which accelerated the development of WANdisco’s first products for the Big Data market. The majority of WANdisco’s core technology is now produced out of the company’s flourishing software development base in David’s hometown of Sheffield, England and in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

David has become recognised as a champion of British technology and entrepreneurship. In 2012, he led WANdisco to a hugely successful listing on London Stock Exchange (WAND:LSE), raising over £24m to drive business growth.

With over 15 years’ executive experience in the software industry, David sits on a number of advisory and executive boards of Silicon Valley start-up ventures. A passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, he has established many successful start-up companies in Enterprise Software and is recognised as an industry leader in Enterprise Application Integration and its standards.

David is a frequent commentator on a range of business and technology issues, appearing regularly on Bloomberg and CNBC. Profiles of David have appeared in a range of leading publications including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.

Specialties:IPO’s, Startups, Entrepreneurship, CEO, Visionary, Investor, ceo, board member, advisor, venture capital, offshore development, financing, M&A