Source Control At Home: Subversion (SVN/TortoiseSVN)

Today, Joel asked me what to do to get source control going at his new job since they don’t have any. He mentioned I have never blogged on SVN or TortoiseSVN at all, so , here goes 🙂

Currently I am using Team Foundation Server (TFS) – which is nice, integrates with VS2005, etc. But really it is only good if you are using VS2005, otherwise it is a pain. What if you have older Classic ASP apps, or PHP or whatever?

This is where TortoiseSVN comes in – I have used it in work scenarios, as well as at home. Easy to set up, and easy to use, and it is pretty scalable if you go bigger, sites like SourceForge now use it.

First thing, you want to download TortoiseSVN here – you can just get the SVN client, its CMD line, works, but is a PITA if you like Explorer Shell integration – use Tortoise.

Once you install TortoiseSVN, it asks you to restart, if you are lazy, just kill explorer.exe and then ctrl+alt+del, task manager, and file->run explorer.exe to get it back, basically it just needs to restart that process to add the shell integration.

Now, you want to create a repo. Right click on inside an EMPTY folder, in the whitespace – you will see some more options, SVN Checkout and TortoiseSVN, then a sub menu.


You want to “Create repository here…” just use the defaults and hit ok, it should tell you have a repo! I made mine


Now if you go to a different folder, and right click, TortoiseSVN->Repo Browser and put your file path in there, you can browse your repo, create folders, etc. Now, you need to import files/project, and then check them out somewhere.

The best thing to do is to go to a project folder say, MyProject, right click, TortoiseSVN->Import , put the path to your repo, a note of “Initial Import” and hit ok. Let it chunk through importing and then hit OK

You are now ready to check out and use the source controlled files. Go to a new folder, called Projects or whatever you want, just somewhere else besides where you are at, and then right click, SVN Checkout. You can browse to your repo, find the folder you imported and then checkout. It will put that in your new folder and there will be little icons on all the files, green icons, because they are good to go.

From here you can modify files, and they will have little red icons, and then you can revert or check in those changes to your source control repo.

Now, with VS2005 (and VS2003), when you build a project, the /bin and /obj directory change every time, and if you are in a team environment, the .suo (user options) file changes too all the time, You want to remove these from source control or you are always going to see a little red icon on the highest level folder. Its best practice to remove any file that changes from some outside force (another common one is in a picture directory, the Thumbs.db file for example)

I left out a lot of smaller details about checking out, checking in, etc, but it is pretty self explanatory. My advice would be to set up a test repo and fool around with it before you put any of your prized projects into it, or make a new repo once you get the hang of it. By the way this is just a “File Based” repo, you can also set up “Web Based” if you have Apace running, but who the heck would run Apace? 🙂

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By Steve Novoselac

Director of Digital Technology @TrekBikes, Father, Musician, Cyclist, Homebrewer

5 replies on “Source Control At Home: Subversion (SVN/TortoiseSVN)”

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