SubConf 2009 – A Report

SubConf is the annual conference of Subversion (Version Control System) project community. SubConf 2009 is the third such event which was held in Munich, Germany from 27-29th October 2009. Though SubConf is a User Conference wherein subversion users from various parts of the world take part, we do have developer hackathons in which subversion core developers come together discuss subversion roadmap, hack code, etc. The
developers also meet the users to get feedback about subversion and also study the user needs so that the future releases can cater to user needs. This year we had a three day conference which was a great success.

We had 10 core developers of Subversion project at the conference venue namely Stephen Butler – Elego, Stefan Sperling – Elego, Neels Hofmeyr – Elego, Julian Foad – WANdisco, Greg Stein – Popular Open Source Developer, Hyrum K. Wright – Subversion Corp, Lieven Govaerts, Bert Huijben – The Competence Group, Senthil Kumaran – Collabnet, Inc, C. Michael Pilato – Collabnet, Inc. All the core developers were locked up
(Hackathon) for all the 3 days in a room in the conference hotel where they discussed about various things related to Subversion development such as Working Copy Next Generation (WC-NG) library, usage of scratch pool, iterpool in subversion code base, release roadmap, interesting issues to work on, etc. Of course hackathon was not just discussion, we also had some real productive programming done, there were approximately 70 commits to the subversion repository with close to +46696/-36666 lines of change!

The first day of the conference started officially in the evening around 7:00pm with Subversion RoundaTable where users of subversion from various organization post their queries and feedback about Subversion. They also explored the possibilities of getting a feature introduced in future releases of Subversion. This was a fruitful
discussion which brings in new requirements to the Subversion Open Source project every year, directly from the actual users.

On the second day of the conference we had many talks scheduled regarding Version Control Systems. The keynote was delivered by C. Michael Pilato who is a long term (from Jan 2001) Subversion developer. He spoke on the history of Subversion, the way the community works, why CollabNet chose to make Subversion a Open Source Project etc. This was refreshing to see the legacy and the advancements that had gone through in the Subversion Community through the years!

The Subversion developers would like (which also forms the message from subversion developers via the conference) the users to do real testing of the pre-release versions (we don’t want you to try on production data, though) of Subversion software to catch bugs early and due to the difficulty developers face (mainly due to computing resources) in order to mimic the varied environments in which subversion is deployed in organizations. The developers are interested to hear from organizations which are interested in offering resources to work on testing Subversion and welcome any such potential prospects. The users requested accessibility for pre-release version of Subversion binaries which the Subversion community is not engaged in providing other than the source tarballs, but the developers took a note of it, that they will work on some mechanism to get it done in future. FWIW, Subversion project in the recent past has started providing nightly tarballs of latest trunk development sources – http://orac.ece.utexas.edu/pub/svn/nightly/

Some of the talks given on the second day and third day of the conference
were as follows (there were even more talks, but they were
non-English):

  • Subversion
    Release Process by Hyrum Wright (Release manager of Subversion
    project) and Stefan Sperling

  • Bringing
    Subversion to the Java (TM) World by Alexander Kitaev and Alexander
    Sinyushkin

  • WC-NG
    (Subversion’s new working copy management library) by Hyrum Wright

  • Comparing
    Apples to Oranges – Subversion, git and Mercurial by Stefan
    Sperling and Stephen Butler

  • Moving
    from SVN to Mercurial by Zsolt Koppany and Janos Koppany

  • Server
    Side Java bindings for Suvbersion by Dave Brown

  • SVN
    Obliterate by Julian Foad

  • Coding
    Control by Tony Smith from Perforce Software

See http://2009.subconf.de/vortraege/1-konferenztag/ , http://2009.subconf.de/vortraege/2-konferenztag/
for presentation slides.

Another
interesting take away from the conference was Subversion Community’s
feeling about Distributed Version Control Systems (DVCS). The
community is excited about DVCS, since we are part of advancing the
“State of the Art” and we are happy that, ultimately we have
competitors in the version control world 🙂 With the latest
improvements on WC-NG library, Subversion will be able to get
features like offline commits, shelving, etc which are premature to
talk now, but are possible in the foreseeable future.

It
was a nice experience for me to lurk around with the Subversion
Developers at the Conference, whom I ve known for the past 2 years
via email communication. We also had a surprise on the following week
after the conference with the announcement made at ApacheCon 2009,
about Subversion project finding a new home in Apache Software
Foundation! With such kind of announcements and user conferences
Subversion Community advances in a faster pace to make this
extraordinary piece of Version Control software even better!

Related links

Detailed Report – Day1

Detailed Report – Day2

Detailed Report – Day3

Pictures – Day1

Pictures – Day2

Pictures – Day3

SubConf website

Posted in Subversion

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