Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fixing Subversion with Command Line Judo

As many of you know, David Bock and I are writing a book about programmer productivity, which includes a fair amount of command line judo. Here's a little piece that I developed for my project.

Occasionally, Subversion breaks with an error that references a path that includes /!svn/ and another line that talks about status 200. (Sorry, I don't have an exact replica right now because it's fixed. I’ll try to capture one in the wild next time I find one.) This seems to happen when someone checks in a binary that is being used by another application: Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or PDB file.

When this happens, you must go through your directory structure to identify the bad file. This is cumbersome (more in a second about this). Once you have found the bad file, remove it from the repository view (i.e., remove it directly from the repository, not your local file system) and do an update. To find the file, you must go to every directory in your local copy of the repository and do an update in that directory. The first directory whose update breaks holds the problem file, which you must find by trial and error. You can do this with Tortoise, but it takes forever.

If you have the foresight to have Cygwin (and therefore the Bash shell) on your machine, you can issue this command (in Bash) from the root directory of your repository:

find . -type d | grep -v "/.svn" | xargs svn up

This command finds every directory, eliminates the ".svn" folders, and pumps the directory name into "svn up". The first directory that breaks when this command executes is your problem folder. Problem solved.

My educated guess on our repository is that it would take 20 minutes to use Tortoise to update every folder, one at a time. It took me about 10 minutes to develop this little bit of command line judo. So, in this case, automating the solution actually took less time than the brute force approach. But, even if the automated approach takes longer to develop, you have a tool for the next time it happens.

Stay tuned for a bunch more stuff like this when we get The Productive Programmer done!


Chris Leishman said...

Unfortunately that'll fail for any paths that contain spaces. Try this instead:

find . -type d -path '*/.svn' -prune -o -type d -print0 | xargs -0 svn up


Neal Ford said...

Right you are. Fortunately, in our case, I knew that there weren't any spaces (because they all matched namespaces). Excellent addition, though, because it makes the idea more generally useful.