Sunday, September 14, 2008

Version Control With Subversion, 2e

The second edition of Version Control With Subversion went off to the print shop this past Friday, and you can already read the official O'Reilly digital version thereof on their Safari Books Online service. This second edition covers Subversion 1.5.0 and all its new features, including merge tracking, changelists, sparse directories, SASL support, and so on.

Click to Buy

I dunno how my co-authors (Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian Fitzpatrick) feel about it, but I am really glad to be finished with this edition. Authoring a book — even just filling in the holes of an existing book for a second edition thereof — is a really time-consuming process! Our first edition was published in 2004 and covered Subversion 1.0. So that meant we needed to have the text updated to cover four more years' and four more major releases' worth of Subversion's maturation. Granted, we'd been more-or-less keeping our text up to date with each release of Subversion as it came out. But the text authorship was nothing compared to the copyediting stages and the tight production schedule there at the end.

Lest anyone misunderstand me, I want to state for the record that all the folks we interacted with at O'Reilly are awesome. Not only were we able to write our book in a completely open format (DocBook XML), but O'Reilly now does all the book fancification in the same format. They were cool enough to give us commit access to their production repository so we could more quickly port changes between our book source files and their copies, and vice-versa. O'Reilly rules!

The pain for us was the scheduling — both the overall length of the process, and the final drive to completion. We were originally contracted to put out a book about Subversion 1.4. But it started looking like Subversion 1.5 would be released about the same time as our 1.4-based book. Well, clearly it didn't make sense to do that, so we negotiated with O'Reilly a change of plans — to publish a book that covered Subversion 1.5 instead. Sadly, Subversion 1.5's schedule slipped. And slipped. And slipped some more. Scope creep and eleventh-hour code reworkings there meant more writing and re-writing for us, and, of course, delayed the whole publishing schedule. And it would have been worse were it not for some incredible volunteer technical reviewers that stepped up to help double-check our work.

But enough of my whining. The point of this post is to announce that the hard work and late nights has finally paid off. We have a second edition at the print shop right now, and only three months after Subversion 1.5.0 was released. We've already gotten some great early feedback on the new edition (the book itself is developed in the public under an open license at, so we are optimistic that this new edition will serve as a useful addition to the libraries — physical or digital — of Subversion users of all flavors.

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