When to use releases and not subversion

Some people are wondering whether they should be using subversion to always get the most current version or wether they should stick to official releases.

I’ll try to answer that question: If you need stability, only use releases, i.e. the ones you can find for download on this site.

Things used to be a bit different in the past, before there was a stable release. Back then many people felt the need to go with subversion for lack of real alternatives. Well, now that there is a stable release that’s no longer the case.

The benefits of using releases are pretty clear

  1. Releases have been tested by more people and for a longer amount of time.
  2. Releases will be tested with respect to upgrade-paths.
  3. Releases make it easier for you to give and receive support in the forum.
  4. Most people will know what did and what did not work in a certain release version.

Here’s what you are risking by using subversion

  1. If you use subversion, the latest check-in may contain errors, it may be incomplete or have side-effects on other parts of the code, or it may break a plugin.
  2. We may make need to make changes to the database or the update scripts, and it’s possible that this is changed several times before the next release, so that while people using releases only get the changes they need and that are tested to work, you as a subversion user may have lasting side-effects from those intermediate changes we were experimenting with.
  3. A subversion checkout cannot be properly supported. It’s not possible to know for hundreds (or soon thousands of) revisions to know what was working when, what might have which side-effects, etc.
  4. You reduce your chances of being able to help other people in the forums. You won’t be able to reproduce their problems to be able to help them, since you are using a different revision. You may give the wrong answers based on your experience with your newer reversion.
  5. If you don’t feel comfortable with subversion, you will (sooner or later) run into problems because of it. And that makes life on the forums harder for all people involve, because it’s not clear wether the problem is related to the latest check-in or unrelated subversion-issues.

If you are a Textpattern user, you are really best off if you stick with releases – actually that’s the only point for making releases in the first place (and you do remember those discussions about when the final is coming out, don’t you).

And if you still feel like using subversion that’s of course fine. But please don’t suggest to users on the forum they should “just get the latest from subversion”, because they really shoudn’t, unless they are aware of all the drawbacks.

By: | Tags: Tips | Comments: 5


  1. If you still plan to use subversion to update your installs, another option is to update your working copies from one release to the next one.

    In order to do this, you have to change the location where your working copy is pointing to the latest stable release location. It’s to say; type.

    svn switch http://svn.textpattern.com/releases/4.0.0/source/

    from the directory where your working copy lives, just before to type svn update from that directory, in order to update to the latest stable release.

    In the future, you can do the same thing just replacing 4.0.0 by the stable release number.

  2. If your hosting has Subversion capability, as Pedro said you could still use it. The title of this article should be “Use release not Subversion head dvlp”.

    There’s nothing wrong with Subversion. It’s a great tool, and even if you don’t care about the whole stuff, if you are a simple plain end-user, you can still profit from SVN to install stable releases in 2 seconds with one command line, and to update it (when the stable release has been updated) as easily, taking full advantage from the merging capability of SVN if you hack a little your Textpatten’s install.

  3. Thanx! You clarified all of my doubts with this article.

    p.s. Can you please put up links to previous versions of Textpattern on the download page please? (from txp gamma to rc5 to 4.0). I would like to see this version especially! Because there is a kind of goodness in the earlier versions.

  4. Jeremie, it all boils down to wether you think svn is a tool that should be put into the hands of end-users. Personally I am very convinced that it is a bad idea, because this leads to problems in the long run:

    For example, if you make modifications and svn can’t resolve them it will note them as conflicts and produce additional files in the directory, but it will not overwrite your old, conflicting file. How does an end-user deal with this? In the end he has to learn to effectively use subversion itself in order to update to textpattern.

    And IMHO it waters down the focus in the support forums to not only support releases, but to also give help in how to use svn (textpattern in svn, as well as svn as a tool itself).

    That’s of course only my personal opinion and there is obviously no way to stop people from doing it or asking related questions.

  5. Hi!

    Respect for you work! Can you tell me, how i can donate you? I can’t use PayPal now, but maybe you have another ways?

    Thanks! Ronald.

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