Using Git With Subversion Repositories

Some of my clients want to use git with their existing Subversion repositories. These are the notes I give them (along with training and coaching) to get them started.

For additional help, see the Git and Subversion section of Pro Git.

General Safety Rules

These rules will help keep you out of trouble until you learn the subtleties of working with git and subversion:

  1. Make changes ONLY on feature branches.
  2. Merge your features into master ONLY immediately before committing to SVN.

Working With The SVN Repository

You will do most of your work in a local git repository, using normal git commands.

You will use the git svn command only to do three things:

Create A Git Repository From An SVN Repository

To create a local git repository from a remote SVN repository:

git svn clone url-to-svn-repo my-git-repo-name

Note that this can take a very long time if the SVN repository has a large history.

Working With Feature Branches

You will do your work in feature branches in your local git repository. A common approach is to create a feature branch for each feature that you are working on.

See the git documentation for details about how to work with branches.

Create A Feature Branch

  1. Choose the starting point. Decide whether to base your new feature branch on the master branch or on another feature branch.
  2. Update the starting point branch (optional). If you want your new feature branch to include the latest changes from SVN, update the existing branch:
  3. Check out the starting point branch.
  4. Create the feature branch. There are two ways to do this. See below.

    To create a feature branch and check it out:

    git checkout -b my-feature
    

    To create a feature branch without checking it out:

    git branch my-feature
    

Committing Your Feature

To commit your feature into the SVN repository:

  1. Update the master branch with the changes from the SVN repository.
  2. Update the feature branch with the changes from the up-to-date master.
  3. Merge the feature into the master branch. You may need to resolve conflicts.
  4. Commit the feature to the SVN repository.

Each step is described in its own section below.

The complete sequence looks like this:

# Update master...
git checkout master
git svn rebase

# Update the feature branch
git checkout my-feature
git rebase master
# may need to resolve conflicts here

# Merge the feature into master
git checkout master
git merge my-feature

# Commit the feature from master
git svn dcommit

Update The Master Branch

To get the latest changes from the SVN repository into your master branch:

git checkout master
git svn rebase

You may wish to update your master branch often. That way, every time you create a feature branch from the master branch, the initial feature branch is up-to-date with the SVN repository.

Update The Feature Branch

You will be getting the new changes from the master branch. So before you do this, you must update the master branch.

Then:

git checkout my-feature
git rebase master

You may need to resolve conflicts.

I often update my feature branch, even if I am not going to commit soon. Keeping my feature branch up to date makes the final merge easier when I am ready to commit.

Resolve Conflicts

Whenever you rebase your feature branch on top of master, there may be conflicts between your feature branch and the new changes in master.

If there are conflicts, git will interrupt the rebase operation and alert you. To complete the rebase, you must first resolve the conflicts.

To resolve the conflicts, either edit the conflicting files in an editor, or use a mergetool:

git mergetool

Once you have resolved the conflicts, continue the rebase process:

git add .
git rebase --continue

Merge The Feature Into The Master Branch

Do this ONLY immediately before committing.

Before you do this, you must update the feature branch with changes from SVN.

Once your feature branch is up to date:

git checkout master
git merge my-feature
# OR git merge --squash my-feature

Commit The Feature To The SVN Repository

You will be committing from the master branch. So before you do this, you must merge your feature into the master branch.

Once your feature is merged into the master branch:

git checkout master
git svn dcommit
comments powered by Disqus