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Version Control with Subversion
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Version Control with Subversion - httpd, the Apache HTTP server - Repository Browsing

Repository Browsing

One of the most useful benefits of an Apache/WebDAV configuration for your Subversion repository is that the youngest revisions of your versioned files and directories are immediately available for viewing via a regular web browser. Since Subversion uses URLs to identify versioned resources, those URLs used for HTTP-based repository access can be typed directly into a Web browser. Your browser will issue a GET request for that URL, and based on whether that URL represents a versioned directory or file, mod_dav_svn will respond with a directory listing or with file contents.

Since the URLs do not contain any information about which version of the resource you wish to see, mod_dav_svn will always answer with the youngest version. This functionality has the wonderful side-effect that you can pass around Subversion URLs to your peers as references to documents, and those URLs will always point at the latest manifestation of that document. Of course, you can even use the URLs as hyperlinks from other web sites, too.

You generally will get more use out of URLs to versioned files—after all, that's where the interesting content tends to lie. But you might have occasion to browse a Subversion directory listing, where you'll quickly note that the generated HTML used to display that listing is very basic, and certainly not intended to be aesthetically pleasing (or even interesting). To enable customization of these directory displays, Subversion provides an XML index feature. A single SVNIndexXSLT directive in your repository's Location block of httpd.conf will instruct mod_dav_svn to generate XML output when displaying a directory listing, and to reference the XSLT stylesheet of your choice:

<Location /svn>
  DAV svn
  SVNParentPath /usr/local/svn
  SVNIndexXSLT "/svnindex.xsl"
  …
</Location>

Using the SVNIndexXSLT directive and a creative XSLT stylesheet, you can make your directory listings match the color schemes and imagery used in other parts of your website. Or, if you'd prefer, you can use the sample stylesheets provided in the Subversion source distribution's tools/xslt/ directory. Keep in mind that the path provided to the SVNIndexXSLT directory is actually a URL path—browsers need to be able to read your stylesheets in order to make use of them!


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Version Control with Subversion
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