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on January 16, 2007
The second edition of Practical Subversion has been updated, but not substantially changed. The new edition has somewhat higher production quality and editing. The reference material on the various svn subcommands has been updated to be more current. This is very important because the first edition was badly out-of-date in this area.

The book has many good features, such as the "Best Practices" chapter, the comparison of Subversion against other version control systems. and the API documentation. These sections have been cleaned up and, in a few cases, extended to provide a real benefit to the reader.

Unfortunately, I don't think the book went far enough with the practical "guide" content. More information about how to use version control and the special features of Subversion in particular would have been a better use of space than repeating the reference material that can be had freely on-line.

Like the first edition, this book tries to be both a solid reference and a practical guide. Unfortunately, the authors do not separate these two missions in the book. This leads to a kind of split personality, where the practical advice is interrupted by reference material and vice versa. I found this to be a bit distracting, and think it prevents this from being a great book.

That being said, this is a good book that covers Subversion quite well. I have recommended it to people already on the strength of the "Best Practices" chapter alone. If you are using Subversion, the practical usage information in this book should help you make better use of the tool.If you are considering using Subversion, the comparison of Subversion against other tools is a very important resource.

Although I think the structure of the book could be improved, I still don't mind recommending the book.
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The version control system known as Subversion is quickly taking over the title of open source leader from the old standby, CVS. If you already have some background knowledge in version control systems and you want to start using Subversion, the book Practical Subversion (Second Edition) by Daniel Berlin and Garrett Rooney would be a good way to transition yourself over...


Introducing Subversion; A Crash Course in Subversion; Repository Administration; Migrating from Other Version Control Systems; Advanced Apache Integration; Best Practices; Integrating Subversion with Other Tools; Using the Subversion APIs; Subversion Command Glossary; Subversion Compared to Other Version Control Systems; Index

Unlike some books that cover version control systems (either generally or one in particular), this one doesn't try and take you from ground zero to expert. While there is some background material, the overall tone is one that assumes you are functionally literate on the subject and are particularly interested in Subversion. While that might limit the potential audience a bit, it makes it much more focused and valuable for those who want to bypass entry level material. The chapters cover both administrative and user-based functions, but tend to be a bit more heavy on the setup and administration end. For something that could be a rather dry subject, the authors do a good job in keeping things moving forward and interesting. I also found the chapter on version control system comparison to be valuable. All systems are *not* the same, and there are some underlying structural differences that will have a significant impact on what does and doesn't convert over, should you choose to switch systems.

All in all, a good book on Subversion, and one that will get you started in the right direction.
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on January 6, 2007
"Practical Subversion" is a great book for repository administrators starting to use Subversion. If you are just planning to use Subversion as a tool, most of the book won't be relevant to you.

The authors cast a wide net in what they cover. They start with Subversion basics - commands and creating a repository. More advanced concepts are quickly covered including security, logging and other tools. I particularly liked the chapter on best practices. They describe the pros and cons when there are two valid approaches. Many of these practices aren't specific to Subversion, but all are important to consider.

Subversion is compared to CVS and Perforce throughout the book. I understand why they chose CVS as it is an open source tool and the predecessor to Subversion. I'm still puzzled why they chose Perforce. Maybe because it has the concept of a "changeset" or one of the authors had experience with it or something else entirely. In the migration section, other tools were also covered including Visual Source Safe.

With open source projects, I like books that aren't just the documentation in book form. For this project, it is an even greater challenge as the documentation is a book ("Version Control with Subversion.") For the commands and daily use, the online documentation is equivalent. For repository administrators and migration issues, this book really shines. The book also expands on the documentation nicely in the area of calling Subversion APIs from C, Perl and Python.
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on November 29, 2006
Great book, *required* reading if you're planning on using the Subversion client API. This is the only book I've found that talks in a serious way about coding/interfacing directly with the Subversion libraries.

The authors speak with authority as to "best practices" and things to which you should pay attention -- in part because they are key contributors to the Subversion project. I like their view on issues and tradeoffs, and it's clear to me they've "mapped out" the whys & hows for the Subversion design. (A whole chapter entitled, "Best Practices" is a GREAT SIGN that they have it figured out.)

We've also found it a very handy for configuring the Subversion server, advanced Apache integration, and for other "pithy answers" when you need detailed explanation of what are your options for some technical install/management issues.

It's an easy read, but with pithy info, in a nice writing style. It's good to read, and (especially the later chapters) are very handy as a "reference". The section on other tools, (e.g., Trac, etc.) is pretty light, but that's probably the best you can do since detailed description of other tools belong in other books.

Well worth the money. (No, I'm not affiliated with the authors or APress in any way.)
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on March 26, 2007
_Practical Subversion_ seems to have a theme that distinguishes it
from "the" Subversion book at [...]
integration. Looking over the table of contents, i see that 5 out of
the 8 chapters focus on integration of one kind or another.

After the requisite chapter on installation, the book moves quickly
through "A Crash Course in Subversion" and "Repository Administration"
and then on to the good stuff. These first three chapters are
thorough and adequate, but are basically the same as such chapters in
other books about Subversion. It's almost a shame such chapters have
to be included, as they're only useful during a short period at the
start of the book's life on your shelf.

_Practical Subversion_ really starts to shine in the chapter on
migration from other systems; it even documents the dump file format!
It goes on to document Apache integration; repository browsers;
integration with the shell, Emacs, and Ant; and closes with an
excellent introduction to the Subversion APIs.

Overall, this is a great book for using Subversion in practice. It
lives up to its title.

--Eric Gillespie
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VINE VOICEon July 2, 2011
I've used several different source code control systems, like SCCS, CVS, etc., and now I need to use SVN for work. I've used it for awhile through a GUI, but I need to be able to use it through a command-line interface as well. So I got this book to help me get up to speed, and hopefully serve as a reference.

In short, I'm pretty disappointed with this book. It has a decent sized "getting started" section, where it talks alot about theory (blech) and has some examples. Then there is a longer section about more advanced topics (with very few examples) and a very terse reference (again with no examples) in the back.

To me, this book is only marginally useful for learning the tool, and pretty much of no value as a reference, because the reference section in the back is so terse that you may as well use the man page.
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on February 5, 2013
This book covers more than just subversion, such as tortoise svn, but it's 7 years later and many changes have been made to subversion since versions 1.3 and 1.4. The current version is 1.7. (as of 2/2013)
Is an update planned for this book that would cover 1.7 with its new administrative structure for the working copies and updates to tortoise svn?
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on June 5, 2013
This book could be called "Subversion for dummies". It is missing a lot of important details, trying to be simple. Dummies can read this book fast and think that they now know subversion. It leaves a mess in readers head.
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on June 18, 2009
This is a good book, although not fantastic.
The best chapter is 'Best Practices' at chapter 6.
The other chapters are well explained but trivial.
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on January 2, 2008
I like this book. It does a good job describing the how to use subversion and many of the industry standard ways subversion is implemented. There are lots of easy to follow examples and good hints of which direction to take when there is an implementation "fork in the road" (i.e. BDB vs FSFS).

The book also does a great job showing you the difference between other version control systems... mostly CVS.

My only gripe with this and other Apress books is that they usually include a section on IDE integration.. This is a good idea but they usually only cover Eclipse and not Netbeans... this book is even more annoying in that it includes Visual Studio(!!!) and not Netbeans... Granted, Subversion integrates pretty easy with Netbeans but geez.. Include the 1/2 a page so all major IDEs are covered.

Done with my rant. Beyond that, I really like this book. I feel this will get you going with Subversion. In a few days of reading, I had enough information to properly setup my own server.
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