Using Subversion to Make Projects Easier

If you are not familiar with Subversion, that title may sound a little sinister. While the dictionary definition of “subversion” may sometimes seem like the best idea in a particularly frustrating group project, the project management system known as Subversion is likely a better option.

What is Subversion?

Subversion, often shortened to SVN, is a system that is widely used in the free software community to manage projects and is also utilized by Google Code. Subversion was developed by the Apache Software Foundation and is currently under a free software license, meaning that it can be used freely as long as copyright notice is maintained.

How is Subversion Useful?

As alluded to previously, group projects can be a major challenge. Even with the most enthusiastic group, managing and tracking tasks can be difficult. Subversion makes it easy to add people to a project, assign and complete tasks, and otherwise manage issues related to the project. Subversion hosts the project so that you and your team can work on actually completing it.

How ClarkWP Uses Subversion

Google Code, which is Google’s website for developers, makes Subversion available as a project management system. ClarkWP uses Subversion through Google Code to assign and accomplish the tasks necessary to manage ClarkWP, including writing new articles, maintenance, and editing. This is all managed under one ClarkWP project in Subversion.

Setting Up Your Subversion Project

If you are a ClarkWP student, or anyone for that matter, Subversion is a great way for you to manage any group projects you need to do. The following images will walk you through the process of creating a Subversion project.

Creating a Project

The very first thing you will need to do to create a Subversion project is to make sure you have a Google account. To create a project using Google Code, you will need to go to Google Code’s website. At the bottom of the right column, you will see a link that says “Create a new project”.
The front page for Google Code's project hosting.

Once you have clicked “Create a new project”, you will be taken to a page that prompts you to input information about the project you wish to create. You will need to enter a name for your project, a summary, and a description of your project. You will also need to select Subversion as your version control system. You are then asked to select a source code license. This is a little more complicated because you must select a free software license. In this case, I have selected GNU GPL version 3. You can learn more about this and other licenses at the GNU website as well as through other research. Once you have selected appropriate label(s) for your project, click “Create project”.
The page prompting for information to create a new Subversion project.

After you have created your new project, you are taken to the project’s home page. From this page you can see your project’s information, as well as links to adding new people and creating new wikis and issues. To add additional people to your project, click on “People” under the “Project Home” tab.
The home page of an example Subversion project.

Once you have clicked “People”, you can add new people to your project. These people must already have a Google account. When you add a new person, you can select whether or not to add them as an Owner, Committer, or Contributor. After you have added a person, you can click on their name in the “Project People” list to change their role or assign other duties.
The page showing the information required to add a person to a Subversion project.

Of course, a project management system is a little pointless if you’re not working on anything. You can create a new issue by clicking on “Issues” in the task bar. From there enter information about the task that needs to be accomplished, including a summary and a description. You will need to set the status of the issue to “New”. At this point, you can either assign someone else as the Owner of the issue, or you can wait and let someone take ownership. Once you submit the issue, other people in your project are able to see and make comments on it or take ownership of it if they have the permission to do so.
Screenshot of the page showing the information needed to create a new issue in Subversion.

Wikis

Wikis allow you to share information and guidelines with the members of your project. You can create wikis to explain the purpose of a group, rules, or explanations on how to accomplish certain tasks. To create a wiki, click on the “Wiki” tab in the task bar.

Managing Your Project

Now that you have finished setting up your project, you can use it to make your group more successful. Encourage the other members of your project to access the issues on Subversion as well as report new things that need to be done. You can continue to add new issues, wikis, and people over time as you need to.

If You Need Help

If you get confused or need help using Subversion, there are a variety of resources available to you. Most notably is Google Code’s own Google Project Hosting support pages. From there you can find documents and forums that can help you solve any problems that you are encountering.

In conclusion, Subversion is a great tool that you can use to manage projects. ClarkWP accesses Subversion through Google Code. The process to create a new project in Subversion is relatively simple and the major requirement is a Google account. You can easily add people and report problems that your group needs to work on. If you experience difficulty understanding something, you can access Google Code’s project hosting help page. If used correctly, Subversion will be a good way for you to manage your future group projects.

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