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"I took a look at Subversion, and it doesn't even come close to what I wanted." -- Linus Torvalds

Subversion is a new system which is supposed to replace CVS. Unfortunately, Subversion shares many of CVS' problems and introduced some of its own problems:
  • Subversion uses a binary file format for your revision control data and metadata and if that format gets corrupted you are out of luck, your whole team comes to a halt.
  • Subversion has a single repository model, i.e., client/server. Each work area is clear text only which means no revision control in the work area during development.
  • No staging areas to protect the main source tree. With Subversion, everyone checks into the same place and if someone breaks the tree, it's broken for everyone. With BitKeeper, you can put a staging area between each group of developers and the main integration tree, thereby protecting the main tree from bad checkins. Anyone who has lived through a change that broke the build can see the value of staging areas.
  • Subversion loses information every time there is parallel development because you are forced to merge before you check in if someone else checked in first. The state of your workspace before the merge is lost forever. Another way to say this is that if there is N-way parallel development, Subversion loses N-1 events.
  • Merging in Subversion is no better than CVS, i.e., primitive at best.
  • Branch management in Subversion is a nightmare.
  • Subversion has no integrity checker which means files can be silently corrupted and you will never know until you try and roll backwards.
  • Subversion has only weak rename support, that's something that is inherent in all centralized systems.

BitKeeper/Subversion Feature Comparison Matrix

Download BitKeeper/Subversion Feature Comparison matrix (pdf)

Feature BK/Pro Subversion Benefit
Atomic ChangeSets Yes No
  • Every change is a reproducible snap shot
  • Aids in debugging and release management
Graphical checkin tool Yes No, done through IDE
  • Graphical tool for file and changeset checkins which promotes more useful comments to speed up development processes and debugging
Dynamic branching Yes No
  • Any workspace can be turned into a branch
  • Advanced planning for branching is not needed
Pro Merge Technology Yes No
  • Most accurate automerge available
  • Only merge each change once
Accurate handling of renames Always No
  • Increased productivity through a well organized source base
Peer-to-peer architecture Yes No
  • Supports any workflow for enhanced quality control
  • Supports the rapid open source style of development
Complete local history Yes No
  • Your developers can keep working even when your server or network doesn't
  • Inherent reliability through replication
True parallel development Yes No
  • Enhanced productivity
  • Faster time to market
Multi-site development True No
  • BitKeeper provides 100% functionality and productivity at all distributed sites
Mobile/Off-network functionality Yes No
  • Increased development productivity by allowing your developers to work while travelling, while at remote locations, while at customer sites, or without a network
Pre-event triggers Yes Yes
  • Ability to qualify events prior to changes which enhances compliance to your development policies
Post-event triggers Yes Yes
  • Supports notification of events and automated secondary operations which provides easier process management
Replicated repositories Yes No
  • Provides enhanced reliability along with the ability to perform transparent, automatic backups
Automatic integrity checks Yes No
  • Detects corruptions indicating potential hardware and software problems saving time and money associated with unplanned downtime
Accurate recording of all history Yes No
  • Accountability: Easy to find Who did What When
  • Provides a complete picture of your parallel development
  • Speeds of debugging process
Minimal Administration Yes No
  • Head count can be used for development rather than taking care of the SCM system
Minimal hardware requirements Yes No
  • No need to purchase additional hardware
  • No requirement for large, expensive server

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