Book Review: TortoiseSVN 1.7 Beginner's Guide

TortoiseSVN is the best Windows tool to manage SVN so if you use it will probably be interested in my thoughts about this book.

Note: Free evaluation copy provided by the publisher.


TortoiseSVN 1.7 - Beginners Guide

Title: TortoiseSVN 1.7 - Beginners Guide
Author: Lesley A. Harrison

The book examples are presented with a fictional company having real world needs and typical usage scenarios that most of us will face sooner or later.

It starts by explaining why the lock-modify-lock system is almost a thing of the past and every company should use the copy-modify-merge approach. Brief descriptions but enough for anyone to understand.

There is the typical setup chapter, with both how to install TortoiseSVN and a Subversion server (good point there, also with multiple options like SVNServe or Subversion), followed by one with basic tasks like browsing repositories, commiting files and excluding files from versioning, to then divide in four chapters all the hard or advanced tasks, like resolving conflicts, branching and merging.

The Setup chapter is excesively detailed (6 pages for checking if you need the 32 or 64 bits version, screenshots-included step-by-step install…), but as the book is targeted for begginers is ok. There are explanations to setup web access (via Apache) with very detailed steps so that nobody gets lost configuring it.

Creation of patches, changing working copies or the SVN url of the project, revision graphs are examples of other topics also covered in the last chapters, as other advanced advanced ones like using TortoiseSVN under SSL, how to plug it to Trac, Jira or other bug tracking systems.The author gives tips and suggestions like folder, applying file locking for binaries like photos or videos (which you cannot merge anyway) or branching & tagging techniques.

The book contains many diagrams and flow charts to explain all processes and there are also quizs at the end of the chapter to reinforce the concepts explained, is well written and uses just as much tecnical jargon as needed.

To have something "negative”, one trick that the author seems to have forgotten to add is the exclude-everything-include-just-code-folders (explained in this Coding Horror post), to avoid TortoiseSVN being slow because of trying to check every hard drive folder and file to add to source control.

An excellent book both to learn Subversion basics and how to use TortoiseSVN for any task.

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