Subversion Live 2012:Keynote

After a first day that covered hook scripts, Subversion server tuning and best practices, and still found time for a Birds of a Feather Open Session, there was even more good stuff to come at the second day of Subversion Live London.

Day two featured an afternoon of breakout sessions that took in the new Apache Bloodhound project, branching and merging, move tracking, continuous delivery, and more.

The day kicked off bright and early, with a keynote delivered by Greg Stein, the Vice President of Apache Subversion at the ASF.

Despite the early hour, Greg delivered his ‘Why Subversion Still Matters’ keynote to a full room. Over the course of an hour, he covered the entire history of the world’s most popular version control system, from the initial “Inversion” filesystem design, to the first Milestone releases, and finally onto Subversion 1.7 as we know it today, complete with enterprise features that are seeing SVN gain increasing adoption within enterprise environments.

Greg also shared the story of how the team assumed Subversion 0.14.0 would mark a turning point in SVN’s development, with future development being concerned only with “bugfix and minor features from now on.” This was backed up by a slide aptly titled “What Were We Thinking?!?”

Greg shared his thoughts on maintaining and managing an open source community, stressing the importance of making developers feel a part of this community by granting them committer privileges. This encourages Subversion’s long-term health – inevitably, some developers will leave the project, but there are always new committers joining.

Of course, any ‘Why Subversion Still Matters’ talk ultimately boils down to the hotly-contested question of whether SVN is still relevant, and whether the future of version control really lies with distributed systems such as Git. Greg pointed out that when you use services such as GitHub, you effectively make your distributed version control centralized again, but ultimately took a refreshingly pragmatic approach, advising that version control systems are just a tool and you should simply choose the right one for your needs.

After covering the ins-and-outs of Subversion’s past, there was just enough time to look to the future. Greg assured attendees that the committers are “always improving merging and merge conflict detection,” and that, although future releases will feature more disconnection, they will still maintain a canonical server.

Despite taking in the entire history of Subversion and looking ahead to future releases, many attendees took advantage of the opportunity to put further questions to Greg Stein after the session had ended.

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