The Apache Software Foundation Blog

Thursday February 27, 2020

The Apache Software Foundation Announces 20th Anniversary of Apache® Subversion®

Community-led Version Control Software and Source Code Management Tool Available on Most Integration Servers, Integrated Development Environments, Issue Tracking Systems, and more. 

Wakefield, MA —27 February 2020— The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today the 20th Anniversary of Apache® Subversion®, the popular centralized software version control system.

Apache Subversion ("SVN") allows users to commit code, manage changes, and recover previous versions of all sorts of data across files and directories. Subversion is ideal for distributed teams who need to easily audit and act on modification logs and versioning history across projects. Subversion originated at CollabNet in 2000 as an effort to create an Open Source version-control system similar to the then-standard CVS (Concurrent Versions System) but with additional features and functionality. Subversion was submitted to the Apache Incubator In November 2009, and became an Apache Top-Level Project in February 2010.

"We are very proud of Subversion's long history, and remain committed to our mission statement," said Stefan Sperling, Vice President of Apache Subversion. "Subversion has moved well beyond its initial goal of creating a compelling replacement for CVS. In 2010 our mission statement was updated to ‘Enterprise-class centralized version control for the masses’.”

Over its 20-year history, Subversion has grown to become the most popular version control system on the market, and remains the leading centralized versioning and revision control software today. Millions of users worldwide depend on the collaboration-friendly system to easily access all files and historical data simultaneously without code conflicts or corruption. Subversion accommodates a wide variety of integrated development environments (IDEs), and is well-suited for large projects. 

Apache Subversion has been broadly adopted for mission-critical code distribution and collaboration workflow by Adobe Dreamweaver, Eclipse, Google, Halliburton, Microsoft Visual Studio, Python, Ruby, Skype, SourceForge, and WordPress, among many organizations and development communities. The ASF uses Apache Subversion in its own infrastructure, housing millions of lines of code in more than 1.8 Million commits across 300 Apache Top-Level Projects and sub-projects.

"One of the best decisions of my life was emailing up Karl (Fogel) to see if he was interested in moving the Open Source community beyond CVS," said Brian Behlendorf, co-founder of CollabNet and co-founder of The Apache Software Foundation. "Essential to Subversion's success was the core team of Karl, Ben (Collins-Sussman), and Mike (Pilato) working publicly, spending the difficult time on design docs and helping newbies up the learning curve, with the goal of building as a community what three people (even the best) alone could not do. 20 years later I'm not surprised to see it continuing to innovate, to add features, to fix bugs, and to push the envelope forward. Git still needs competition :) But it's also the best example, and essential example, for why community matters more than code. It's the Subversion community that made it successful, that made the code continuously better, that left no CVS user behind, and that did so with the technical precision and super-human decency all other projects should aspire to."

"Twenty years later, Subversion is no longer the upstart -- it is mature software, and still going strong," said Karl Fogel, original founding developer of Subversion, and Partner at Open Tech Strategies. "Subversion continues to be widely used, especially in enterprise settings, because of its reliability, the simplicity of its conceptual model, its ability to handle large files, and features like path-based access control and optional file-locking. In situations where Subversion's centralized model is the right tool for the job, it really shines: we use it for our entire internal corporate tree, for example, because the path-based authorization is crucial. To get some other viewpoints on where Subversion has come over 20 years, I took a walk through the main project's support forums and the forums of TortoiseSVN, the popular open source SVN client application for Windows. I was delighted by what I saw: a diversity of uses and users, fast and helpful responses, and a focus on practical needs. Starting two decades ago, Subversion helped bring version control beyond developers to a wider audience, and it continues to do that today."

"Today we've got a plethora of fast, reliable, and efficient version control systems, but twenty years ago we had exactly zero: CVS was the only widely used version control system and it still failed in unpredictable ways (including bitrot that was undetectable until you tried to check out old code)," said Brian Fitzpatrick, one of Subversion’s earlier developers. "Even though most people use Git today in the Open Source world, Subversion was the catalyst that allowed folks to move from CVS to Git and so many other modern day version control systems. While the core team wrote a great deal of Subversion's code, we also spent a great deal of time communicating outside of our office in Chicago in an effort to build a larger Subversion community--an effort that eventually paid off more than tenfold."

"When we gathered in my basement in early 2000, thinking about what paths Subversion should follow, none of us imagined what would be accomplished over the next twenty years," said Greg Stein, an early developer of Subversion, and former Vice President of Apache Subversion. "We focused on improving the experience of CVS users and administrators. We overshot our own expectations within just a few years, creating a system that millions have found worthy. From our humble beginnings, I couldn't be more proud of what the community has accomplished."

"Technology is at its best when it brings people together," said Matt Mullenweg, Founder and Lead Developer at the WordPress Foundation. "SVN has brought countless people together over the years and I wish it much continued success."

"Reliable and powerful version management is essential for our product development. Today, more than 100 of our employees regularly use Apache Subversion with several million lines of source code in our Subversion repository," said Roland Wagner, Head of Product Marketing at CODESYS Group. "Our success with Subversion convinced us to become the first company to develop a connected product for the area of industrial automation with the launch of CODESYS SVN. Many of the over 100,000 CODESYS users worldwide work with CODESYS SVN whichsignificantly simplifies the development of their industrial IEC 61131-3 application software, when realizing automation projects for factories and plants, mobile machines, buildings and energy systems. We thank and congratulate the Subversion community on its 20th anniversary!"

"After 20 years, Apache Subversion continues to deliver on our goal with a stable and portable version control system that powers software projects of all sizes being developed on any of the popular operating system platforms," added Sperling. "Apache Subversion repositories store valuable mission-critical assets of companies and organizations across the globe. Subversion remains an essential source code management tool for developers at every level --we welcome their participation on our lists and community."

Availability and Oversight
Apache Subversion software is released under the Apache License v2.0 and is overseen by a self-selected team of active contributors to the project. A Project Management Committee (PMC) guides the Project's day-to-day operations, including community development and product releases. For downloads, documentation, and ways to become involved with Apache Subversion, visit http://subversion.apache.org/

About The Apache Software Foundation (ASF)
Established in 1999, The Apache Software Foundation is the world’s largest Open Source foundation, stewarding 200M+ lines of code and providing more than $20B+ worth of software to the public at 100% no cost. The ASF’s all-volunteer community grew from 21 original founders overseeing the Apache HTTP Server to 765 individual Members and 206 Project Management Committees who successfully lead 350+ Apache projects and initiatives in collaboration with 7,200 Committers through the ASF’s meritocratic process known as "The Apache Way". Apache software is integral to nearly every end user computing device, from laptops to tablets to mobile devices across enterprises and mission-critical applications. Apache projects power most of the Internet, manage exabytes of data, execute teraflops of operations, and store billions of objects in virtually every industry. The commercially-friendly and permissive Apache License v2 has become an industry standard within the Open Source world, helping launch billion dollar corporations and benefiting countless users worldwide. The ASF is a US 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization funded by individual donations and corporate sponsors including Aetna, Alibaba Cloud Computing, Anonymous, ARM, Baidu, Bloomberg, Budget Direct, Capital One, CarGurus, Cerner, Cloudera, Comcast, Facebook, Google, Handshake, Huawei, IBM, Indeed, Inspur, Leaseweb, Microsoft, ODPi, Pineapple Fund, Pivotal, Private Internet Access, Red Hat, Target, Tencent, Union Investment, Workday, and Verizon Media. For more information, visit http://apache.org/ and https://twitter.com/TheASF

© The Apache Software Foundation. "Apache", "Subversion", "Apache Subversion", and "ApacheCon" are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Apache Software Foundation in the United States and/or other countries. All other brands and trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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