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Version Control with Subversion
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Version Control with Subversion - Copying Changes Between Branches - Tracking Merges Manually

Tracking Merges Manually

Merging changes sounds simple enough, but in practice it can become a headache. The problem is that if you repeatedly merge changes from one branch to another, you might accidentally merge the same change twice . When this happens, sometimes things will work fine. When patching a file, Subversion typically notices if the file already has the change, and does nothing. But if the already-existing change has been modified in any way, you'll get a conflict.

Ideally, your version control system should prevent the double-application of changes to a branch. It should automatically remember which changes a branch has already received, and be able to list them for you. It should use this information to help automate merges as much as possible.

Unfortunately, Subversion is not such a system. Like CVS, Subversion does not yet record any information about merge operations. When you commit local modifications, the repository has no idea whether those changes came from running svn merge , or from just hand-editing the files.

What does this mean to you, the user? It means that until the day Subversion grows this feature, you'll have to track merge information yourself. The best place to do this is in the commit log-message. As demonstrated in the earlier example, it's recommended that your log-message mention a specific revision number (or range of revisions) that are being merged into your branch. Later on, you can run svn log to review which changes your branch already contains. This will allow you to carefully construct a subsequent svn merge command that won't be redundant with previously ported changes.

In the next section, we'll show some examples of this technique in action.


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Version Control with Subversion
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