Unstoppable Subversion

Here on openCollabNet we publish a graph that shows the adoption of Subversion on public Apache servers (actually: only those servers that report their mod_dav_svn module, Subversion). The raw data is published monthly by the Canadian security and on-line services consulting company E-Soft.

Last month Subversion reached 150,000 servers that report their Subversion module and the growth is spectacular. In August 2006 E-Soft reported 46,000 servers, a year over year growth of over 3x !!! From 2005 to 2006: same story, from 15,000 to 46,000.

The number only reflects a subset of the Subversion servers out there. There are lots of Apache servers that do not report their modules (I understand it is practice to no longer do so for security reasons). And then there are the instances of public Subversion servers that run svnserve and many more servers behind firewalls. So, the report shows the trend of the adoption of Subversion, the actual number is much higher.

Another interesting report to look at is from CIA.vc (not the government). This report covers commit messages of over 1,000 open source projects. Subversion blows all other systems away and it is clear that it has overtaken CVS by a stretch, at least according to this report.

How many developers using Subversion does this translate into? Of course it is impossible to give an absolute number but if you take an average of 5 developers on each of these servers that E-Soft reports, make an adjustment for other public servers, add some hard data on really big projects that we know about (like the Apache project), add the number of developers using Subversion as part of CollabNet’s platforms (we have hard data on that of course), add hosting services and make an estimate of corporate use, then it is fair to say that well over 2 million developers now use Subversion.

Subversion is unstoppable and certainly one of the most successful open source projects.

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10 comments on “Unstoppable Subversion
  1. John James says:

    ‘Unstoppable’? Hardly. Subversion’s centralized repository model is a dead end. Being developed in c also works against svn, a premature optimization that will hinder efforts to keep it on an even footing with tools like bzr and hg that take advantage of the development speed of a dynamic language like python.
    By choosing to make ‘a better cvs’ instead of pushing the boundaries of scm, svn has managed to create a tool that was obsolete even as it was released. Relegating yourself to mediocrity is never a good strategy, and the new breed of distributed revision control systems, including git, bzr and hg, will eventually eat svn’s lunch. They are preferred by leading-edge developers, and everyone else will inexorably follow.

  2. she says:

    “Subversion’s centralized repository model is a dead end.”
    Well I would agree that Subversion has a lot of competition, especially git seems to take up favour lately.
    But stating that it’s model is a dead end, this is a damn joke man!
    CVS is still around! And Subversion is approximately 100x better than cvs 😉

  3. harry says:

    “They are preferred by leading-edge developers, and everyone else will inexorably follow.”
    You forgot darcs.
    But you know how it goes in reality? This or that scm sucks, and then the lead developer is starting to look for alternatives.
    That is called healthy competition though. Now instead of spreading those predictions as you do, we can follow the numbers and let these numbers speak out. Period.

  4. jack says:

    100x better than cvs? pffft. Subversion is basically cvs with two minor improvements: rename and atomic transaction commits. Thats something, but its so incredibly incremental that I wonder why all the effort didn’t just go into fixing cvs cruftage.
    But I guess that’s the summary: svn is a slightly better cvs.
    For those of use that have moved onto one of the decentralized version control systems, cvs/svn both seem like throwbacks to the 70s. Merging sucks so horribly in both that it makes one question whether ever creating a branch is worth the pain in the first place.
    Heres where drcs really shine; their bread-and-butter *is* branching and merging.
    Sure, svn will be around forever. So will COBOL. But the l33t will never flock to either.

  5. Peter Fein says:

    I did $(history |grep svn |wc -l) / $(history |wc -l) and came up with ~20%. In other words, 1 out of non-trivial shell commands was Subversion

    At work, our entire deployment procedure is built around `svn update` (running a dynamic language helps).

    The depth of adoption is as impressive as the breadth.

  6. ivan says:

    “Subversion’s centralized repository model is a dead end.”
    “Heres where drcs really shine; their bread-and-butter *is* branching and merging.”
    Despite what the l33t might think, not everyone is working on the linux kernel or some other open source thing.
    We do software and HDL hardware development. Amazingly, we don’t spend all our time branching! Most of our time is spent generating and testing code in the trunk!
    For this, svn, as an improvement on CVS, is very useful.

  7. paveo says:

    That’s great! The CVS nightmare’s gone.

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