Apache Subversion

A New Vision and Roadmap for Subversion?

Jessica Thornsby

Proposed shake-up at Subversion after the team reveal no new full-time committers in the past year.

Core Subversion developer Michael Pilato has posted a
Subversion Vision and Roadmap Proposal‘ after
receiving feedback that the open source revision control system was
in danger of stagnating. He reveals that, in fact, there have been
no new full-time Subversion committers, in the past year.

However, to him the problem lies in Subversion’s failure to
communicate their current goals to those outside of the Subversion
community. This creates the appearance of inactivity. But, Pilato
has plenty of ideas on how to rectify this.

He makes the potentially controversial claim that Subversion has
no future as a DVCS tool, citing “two very successful such tools”
that already exist in this market place. Instead, Pilato recommends
focusing on centralisation, path-based authorisation and
simplicity, to better cater to the corporate developer. He offers
the following vision statement:

“Subversion exists to be universally recognized and adopted as
an open-source, centralized version control system characterized by
its reliability as a safe haven for valuable data; the simplicity
of its model and usage; and its ability to support the needs of a
wide variety of users and projects, from individuals to large-scale
enterprise operations.”

Keeping this vision statement in mind, Pilato recommends a list
of features that should be implemented in future releases of
Subversion. These include repository-dictated configuration for
version 1.8; a version 2 of the Subversion editor in 1.9; and FS-NG
complete with FS-NG enabled features in version 2.0.

He acknowledges that FS-NG is likely to divide opinion, but
explains that he believes the current two file system offerings are
stifling innovation at Subversion. He proposes that Subversion 2.0
be allowed to break compatibility with the 1.x line in ways that
can be mitigated by using the RA layer as a compatibility shim.

In terms of limiting the fragmentation of the Subversion
community, Pilato proposes hosting a Subversion “planet” at
subversion.org. Here, feeds would be collected from both individual
contributors and corporate entities. To breathe new life into the
community, he advises putting more effort into mentoring newcomers,
as asking a would-be-contributor to “troll through the issue
tracker looking for bite-sized issues….communicates “we can’t be
bothered to mentor you.”

Finally, he envisions a public roadmap, which would encourage
contributors to accelerate Subversion’s development in “harmony
with the Big Picture.”

He is currently soliciting feedback from the community on his
vision for the future of Subversion. For more information, please
see the mailing list.

There have been several changes at Subversion over the past few
months. In February, Subversion became an
Apache Top-Level Project
and then, in March, the team added a

custom replication system
for reaching a consensus in a network
of unreliable processors, to the system.

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