Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review: Pragmatic Guide to Subversion

Author: Mike Mason
Format: Paperback, 150 pages
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1st edition (November 15, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1934356611
ISBN-13: 978-1934356616

I really like this book. It fits my needs perfectly. Let me explain.

I use Subversion in my day job as a technical writer for a software company. I use Ubuntu (9.10 Karmic Koala) and connect to the subversion repository via the shell. This is pretty much how the book was written, so all of the commands and tasks really fit my personal situation. Not only that, but the level of complexity (or lack thereof, if you're a total subversion guru) is right at my level.

OK, the book wasn't just written for me. Each task that is demonstrated in a bash shell is also presented in TortoiseSVN for Windows users and in Cornerstone for Mac OS X users. The book doesn't bias to only one interface, so a very wide subversion user base is served.

In general, a task is presented on two pages, both facing the reader, with the left page using narrative to describe the task, background information, and references to other relevant parts of the book, and the right page presenting the task. Each book section starts with a brief list of what it contains and provides the page numbers to how tasks are done in each of the interfaces, so you can easily skip over the bits that don't apply to you.

Pragmatic Guide to Subversion won't teach you how to be an expert subversion administrator, but it will teach you plenty about the hands-on of using subversion. You even get lessons on installing subversion, creating a respository, projects, and managing trunks, branches, tags, and more.

You can create a lab environment on your local computer or use the book's material to smooth over any rough spots in working with a production repository in a software development environment (like me). The book is simple, easy to read, and practical. If you work with subversion and keep having to bug the developers about how to manage your work in svn, go by the book and, as they say, RTFM.