Getting started with bzr-svn (was Re: bzr-svn and subversion revisions)

Russel Winder russel.winder at
Fri Sep 4 09:03:18 BST 2009


On Fri, 2009-09-04 at 17:10 +1000, Matt Doran wrote:
> Russel Winder wrote:
> > For working locally, local Bazaar revision numbers are fine.  However
> > when discussing things with the poor sods who have yet to discover the
> > brilliance of using Bazaar as a Subversion client :-)  they need
> > Subversion revision numbers.
> >   
> I'm one of those sods. :)  The native subversion client seems to get 
> slower and more painful with every release.  Unfortunately, it will be a 
> while before we can get rid of svn on the server.

I think this echos what is going to happen over the short and medium
term.  Many organizations will switch to Bazaar, Mercurial or Git, but
the vast majority will need to keep their Subversion repositories as the

> I've been unable to find a much in the way of documentation that 
> discusses where to start, what are the gotchas, pitfalls, 
> best-practises, etc.   The page here 
> ( doesn't provide 
> much more than low-level technical detail.

It is a bit minimalistic I agree, and it is not a workable suggestion to
trawl all the Bazaar mailing list over the last 3 years for all the
information contained there.  However . . . 

> I'm a bit hesitant to start using bzr as an svn client for our company 
> svn repo, without a bit more documentation to guide me.   And I have 
> less time than I'd like to stumble through it myself.

The problem here is that in reality there is no special documentation.
the whole point of bzr-svn is that it makes a Subversion repository look
like a Bazaar branch.  You just use Bazaar commands as (well) documented
across the website.  Unlike Git which has special commands, Bazaar has
no special commands for dealing with Subversion.

So I would say go for it anyway.  Treat your Subversion repository as a
central place to store Bazaar branches.  Each person then:

	Create a shared repository for each project.
	Checkout Subversion trunk to a branch Mirror
	Bazaar branch Mirror for all your feature branches
	Enjoy doing DVCS with all your colleagues.

In all cases where I have used this strategy it Just Works(tm). 

> Is there any good resources out there on this topic?  Or can anyone 
> offer some advice on getting started?

See above :-)

I have a book chapter but it isn't ready for publication yet.

> Getting svn users on-board is a big opportunity for bzr.  If you can 
> convince people to use bzr as an svn client ... then converting their 
> repository to bzr is the obvious next step.  :)

Very much so.

I am continually surprised by how few software developers know about
DVCS.  Managers seem to treat it as anathema -- for reasons they don't
understand, but I think are actually well understood.

The beauty of bzr-svn is that you can do DVCS immediately without having
to stop using Subversion.  The change from CVCS to DVCS becomes both a
revolution and an incremental change.
Dr Russel Winder      Partner
                                            xmpp: russel at
Concertant LLP        t: +44 20 7585 2200, +44 20 7193 9203
41 Buckmaster Road,   f: +44 8700 516 084   voip: sip:russel.winder at
London SW11 1EN, UK   m: +44 7770 465 077   skype: russel_winder
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