<chapter id="misc-docs-best_practices">
  <title>Best Practices</title>
    <para>Tips to use Subversion more effectively.</para>
    <para>In this chapter, we'll focus on how to avoid some pitfalls
      of version control systems in general and Subversion
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  <sect1 id="misc-docs-best_practices-sect-1">
    <title>Source Code Formatting</title>
    <para>Subversion diffs and merges text files work on a
      line-by-line basis. They don't understand the syntax of
      programming languages or even know when you've just reflowed
      text to a different line width.</para>
    <para>Given this design, it's important to avoid unnecessary
      reformatting. It creates unnecessary conflicts when merging
      branches, updating working copies, and applying patches. It also
      can drown you in noise when viewing differences between
    <para>You can avoid these problems by following clearly-defined
      formatting rules.  The Subversion project's own HACKING document
      and the Code Conventions for the Java Programming Language
      are good examples.</para>
    <para>Tabs are particularly important. Some projects, like
      Subversion, do not use tabs at all in the source tree. Others
      always use them and define a particular tab size.</para>
    <para>It can be very helpful to have an editor smart enough to
      help adhere to these rules. For example, <command>vim</command>
      can do this on a per-project basis with
      <filename>.vimrc</filename> commands like the following:</para>
autocmd BufRead,BufNewFile */rapidsvn/*.{cpp,h}
    setlocal ts=4 noexpandtab
autocmd BufRead,BufNewFile */subversion/*.[ch]
    setlocal sw=2 expandtab cinoptions=>2sn-s{s^-s:s
    <para>Check your favorite editor's documentation for more
    <sect2 id="misc-docs-best_practices-sect-1.1">
      <title>When You Have To Reformat</title>
      <para>In the real world, we're not always so perfect. Formatting
        preferences may change over time, or we may just make
        mistakes. There are things you can do to minimize the problems
        of reformatting.</para>
      <para>These are good guidelines to follow:</para>
          <para>If you're making a sweeping reformatting change, do it
            in a single commit with no semantic changes. Give precise
            directions on duplicating formatting changes.</para>
          <para>If you've made semantic changes to some area of code and
            see inconsistent formatting in the immediate context, it's
            okay to reformat.  Causing conflicts is not as great a
            concern because your semantic changes are likely to do that
      <para>Here's an example of a sweeping reformat:</para>
$ svn co file:///repo/path/trunk indent_wc
$ indent -gnu indent_wc/src/*.[ch]
$ svn commit -m 'Ran indent -gnu src/*.[ch]' indent_wc
      <para>This follows all rules: there were no semantic changes mixed
        in (no files were changed other than through
        <command>indent</command>). The <command>indent</command>
        commandline was given, so the changes can be very easily
        duplicated. All the reformatting was done in a single
      <para>Let's say these changes occurred to the trunk at revision
        26. The head revision is now 42. You created a branch at
        revision 13 and now want to merge it back into the
        trunk. Ordinarily you'd do this:</para>
$ svn co file://repo/path/trunk merge_wc
$ svn merge -r 13:head file://repo/path/branches/mybranch merge_wc
&hellip; # resolve conflicts
$ svn commit -m 'Merged branch'
      <para>But with the reformatting changes, there will be many, many
        conflicts. If you follow these rules, you can merge more
$ svn co -r 25 file://repo/path/trunk merge_wc
$ svn merge -r 13:head file://repo/path/branches/mybranch merge_wc
&hellip; # resolve conflicts
$ indent -gnu src/*.[ch]
$ svn up
&hellip; # resolve conflicts
$ svn commit -m 'Merged branch'
      <para>In English, the procedure is:</para>
          <para> Check out a pre-reformatting trunk working copy.</para>
          <para> Merge all branch changes. Fix conflicts.</para>
          <para> Reformat in the same manner.</para>
          <para> Update to the head revision. Fix conflicts.</para>
          <para> Check in the merged working copy.</para>
    <sect2 id="misc-docs-best_practices-sect-1.2">
      <title>Ignoring Whitespace Differences</title>
      <para>When viewing differences between revisions, you can
        customize <command>svn diff</command> output to hide whitespace
        changes. The <option>-x</option> argument passes arguments
        through to GNU diff. Here are some useful arguments:</para>
      <table id="misc-docs-best_practices-table-1">
        <tgroup cols="2">
              <entry>Ignore differences in whitespace only.</entry>
              <entry>Ignore added/removed blank lines.</entry>
              <entry>Ignore changes in case.</entry>
              <entry>Expand tabs to spaces to preserve
              <entry>Output a tab rather than a space at the beginning
                of each line to start on a tab stop.</entry>
      <para>The commit emails always show whitespace-only changes.
        <filename>commit-email.pl</filename> uses <command>svnlook diff</command> to get
        differences, which doesn't support the <option>-x</option>
    <sect2 id="misc-docs-best_practices-sect-1.3">
      <title>Line Endings</title>
      <para>Different platforms (Unix, Windows, MacOS) have different
        conventions for marking the line endings of text files. Simple
        editors may rewrite line endings, causing problems with diff and
        merge. This is a subset of the formatting problems.</para>
      <para>Subversion has built-in support for normalizing line
        endings. To enable it, set the <command>svn:eol-style</command>
        property to ``native''. See Properties in the Subversion
        book. for more information</para>
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  <sect1 id="misc-docs-best_practices-sect-2">
    <title>When you commit</title>
    <para>It pays to take some time before you commit to review your
      changes and create an appropriate log message. You are
      publishing the newly changed project anew every time you
      commit. This is true in two senses:</para>
        <para> When you commit, you are potentially destabilizing the
          head revision.  Many projects have a policy that the head
          revision is <quote>stable</quote>&mdash;it should always
          parse/compile, it should always pass unit tests, etc. If you
          don't get something right, you may be inconveniencing an
          arbitrary number of people until someone commits a fix.</para>
        <para> You can not easily remove revisions. (There is no
          equivalent to <command>cvs admin -o</command>.) If you might
          not want something to be in the repository, make sure it is
          not included in your commit.  Check for sensitive
          information, autogenerated files, and unnecessary large
    <para>If you later don't like your log message, it is possible to
      change it. The <command>svnadmin setlog</command> command will
      do this locally. You can set up the script <systemitem
      to allow the same thing remotely. All the same, creating a good
      log message beforehand helps clarify your thoughts and avoid
      committing a mistake.</para>
    <para>You should run a <command>svn diff</command> before each
      commit and ask yourself:</para>
        <para> do these changes belong together? It's best that each
          revision is a single logical change. It's very easy to
          forget that you've started another change.
        <para> do I have a log entry for these changes?
    <para>Defining a log entry policy is also helpful --- the
      Subversion HACKING document <systemitem
      is a good model. If you always embed filenames, function names,
      etc. then you can easily search through the logs with
      search-svnlog.pl <systemitem
    <para>You may want to write the log entry as you go. It's common
      to create a file <filename>changes</filename> with your log
      entry in progress. When you commit, use <command>svn ci -F
    <para>If you do not write log entries as you go, you can generate
      an initial log entry file using the output of <command>svn
      status</command> which contains a list of all modified files and
      directories and write a comment for each one.</para>
    <sect2 id="misc-docs-best_practices-sect-2.1">
      <title>Binary Files</title>
      <para>Subversion does not have any way to merge or view
        differences of binary files, so it's critical that these have
        accurate log messages. Since you can't review your changes
        with <command>svn diff</command> immediately before
        committing, it's a particularly good idea to write the log
        entry as you go.</para>
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