How to Use Subversion for Web Development
by Jonathan Hochman
To learn about the benefits of using Subversion for web site development,
see the article I wrote for SearchEngineLand, Legitimate,
Useful Subversion For Search Engine Marketers. This page explains
the essential details of installing and using Subversion for web
development on Windows or Macintosh.
To begin, you need to set up a Subversion repository on a server.
If you want to download the software and configure it, go to the Subversion
project at Tigris.org. If you would rather avoid setting up server
software, you can buy hosted Subversion service. My favorite is Codesion.
Once you have a Subversion server, you need to create a module for
your project. The module is like a briefcase that contains all your
project files. Once you have set up a module, you'll be able to connect
with a Subversion client to add files.
Subversion Windows Client
- Download Tortoise
SVN and install. If you do not know which file to download
choose the 32 Bit Installer. Save the file on your desktop and double
click. After the installation finishes, restart windows.
- Create a new folder. Right click on the folder and select
TortoiseSVN >> Checkout.
- Enter the URL of the repository module you want to work on,
your userid and password.
- TortoiseSVN will now download all the web site files found
in the module. If the module is empty, TortoiseSVN will set up
your folder so you can add files later.
To edit the web site
- Right click the web site folder on your computer and choose
SVN Update. This makes sure you have the latest file versions.
- Edit the files with your favorite tool, such as Dreamweaver.
- You can also copy files in from another folder using Windows
- FTP any modified files to your web server as you normally
- Right click on the folder and choose SVN Commit to store your
changes in the repository.
- A list of changed or new files will appear. Make sure the box
next to each valid file is checked, especially if you have created
new files. Commit will automatically add them to the repository.
If there are any files you do not want to add to the repository,
do not check those boxes.
- You can also enter notes that explain what changes you made.
This is helpful to other people who may need to know what you
- TortoiseSVN will store the modified files and give you a confirmation.
There are other commands that can be used in more complex situations.
Read the TortoiseSVN documentation for
Subversion Macintosh Client
Start by downloading SCPlugin,
and following the official installation
instructions. See the above section on TortoiseSVN for an overview
of the workflow process for updating your files and committing your
changes. SCPlugin is essentially the same as TortoiseSVN in this
As of April 2008, SCPlugin did not handle access credentials. If you try to Update or
Commit and get an error message, you can try the following steps
to store your access credentials:
You will be prompted to enter your access credentials. Once the command
completes successfully, you should be able to use SCPlugin through
For additional information,
please contact Hochman Consultants.