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TortoiseSVN: A Quick Start Guide

📅 2006-Oct-11 ⬩ ✍️ Ashwin Nanjappa ⬩ 🏷️ subversion, tortoisesvn ⬩ 📚 Archive


I have been an avid user of TortoiseCVS for many years now. It has been the single most important influence for me to like version control systems. Every version control tool I had used before it had made me cringe and swear. Last week, I switched to using TortoiseSVN for my source code files. Like TortoiseCVS is built upon CVS, TortoiseSVN has been built upon a much more advanced version control system called Subversion.

Why did I switch? There are certain operations which are difficult or impossible in CVS/TortoiseCVS. If you rename, add and delete files inside your project, then CVS struggles to maintain versions of those. Since I have used some very advanced version control systems like Clearcase before, I knew CVS had reached its limits of use for me. I had to move on to Subversion.

When I did move, I found that there are not many guides out on the Internet which provide the minimum number of steps required for TortoiseCVS users to switch to its new brother TortoiseSVN. I aim to do that below with some simple steps and screenshots.


Download TortoiseSVN and install it.


First, we need a repository to hold the versions of our data. Say you want to create a local repository (one that exists on your harddisk). Create an empty directory to hold the SVN repository. Right-click inside it and choose TortoiseSVN → Create Repository here. Choose Native Filesystem (FSFS) in the next dialog. The repository is created!


A Simple Project

I will assume you have a bunch of files or folders all nicely managed inside a single folder which you want to manage as a project.

Lets lay the groundwork for your project. Open Repo-browser by right-click and choosing TortoiseSVN → Repo-browser. Provide the path to your repository in the URL section.


Create a new folder for your project. Give the name of your project to this folder. Now, here’s the bit where SVN differs from CVS. Create 3 folders inside the above folder named trunk, tags and branches. trunk will hold your data most of the time. tags will hold your tagged data and branches will hold your branched data.


Importing Your Project

Clean the folder you wish to import into the repository by removing all unnecessary files and folders inside. Right-click on the folder now and choose TortoiseSVN → Import. Choose the location of your repository. Choose your project name and choose trunk. We are importing our files into the main trunk of the repository tree. The tags we create and branches we create in the future will reside on the tags and branches respectively but will derive from the trunk.


Working Copy

Now that all our project data has been imported into the repository, we can check out a working copy to any place we want and start working! Create a new folder with any desired name. Right-click on this folder and choose TortoiseSVN → Checkout. In the repository section choose your project’s trunk folder and checkout.


You can modify and commit the files inside this working copy folder just like you did in TortoiseCVS.


Tagging is a bit different in SVN. Right-click and choose TortoiseSVN → Branch/Tag. In the To URL section, choose your project’s tags folder and append a tag to it there. Use the same kind of …/tags/… path when you wish to checkout this tagged data. This is how tagging is different in SVN.


To merge back a branch to trunk, go to the trunk checkout and merge the branch “to” it.

I hope that with the preliminary information given above, you can get started with TortoiseSVN.

© 2022 Ashwin Nanjappa • All writing under CC BY-SA license • 🐘📧