Guided Tour of Subversion for NetBeans IDE 6.0

NetBeans IDE 6.0 now provides tight integration with Subversion client versions 1.3.x and higher. The IDE's Subversion support is designed to help streamline the development process for groups working from a shared repository, enabling you to perform versioning tasks directly from your project system within the IDE.

This document demonstrates how to perform basic versioning tasks in the IDE by guiding you through the standard workflow when using versioning software. It also introduces you to some of the new Subversion features included in NetBeans IDE 6.0.

Subversion is a popular open source version control system that is becoming the next-generation replacement for CVS. It provides various improved features, for example:

Expected duration: 40 minutes

Content on this page applies to NetBeans IDE 6.0

The following topics are covered below:

Setting up Subversion

Before you can take advantage of the IDE's Subversion support, you need to have Subversion client software installed on your computer. The IDE's Subversion support works by interacting with the Subversion client to carry out versioning commands. Depending on your system, and whether you install the Subversion client to a non-default location, you may also need to register the path to the Subversion executable in the IDE.

Getting the Software

Make sure you have the following software installed on your computer:

Note: In order to install and run NetBeans IDE 6.0, you also require the Java SE Development Kit (JDK) version 5.0 or higher.

Specifying the Path to the Subversion Executable

By default, the Subversion executable file is installed in the /usr/local/bin/ folder on UNIX and Mac OS X machines and in C:\Program Files\Subversion\bin\ for Windows XP.

NetBeans IDE automatically tries to identify the location of the Subversion executable file by using the $PATH system variable on your computer. Depending on your platform however, or whether you installed the Subversion client to a different location, it may be necessary to specify the path to the executable file explicitly. To set the path to the Subversion executable file in the IDE:

  1. Choose Tools > Options from the main menu. The Options dialog opens.
  2. Select the Miscellaneous icon along the top of the dialog, then click the Versioning tab. In the left pane under Versioning Systems, select Subversion. User-defined options for Subversion display in the main window of the dialog:

    Subversion Options dialog featuring user-defined options
  3. In the Specify the SVN Home Folder text field, either type in the path to the executable file or click Browse to navigate to it on your system. Note that you need not include the Subversion executable file in the path.
  4. Click OK, then restart the IDE to allow changes to take effect.

Synchronizing Local Files with a Repository

When using a version control system, you work by synchronizing local files with a repository, making changes to your local copy, then committing them to the repository. The following list describes various ways you can synchronize a project in NetBeans IDE, depending on your specific situation:

Opening a Subversion Project in the IDE

If you already have a Subversion versioned project which you have been working with outside of the IDE, you can open it in the IDE and versioning features will automatically become available to you. The IDE scans your open projects and if they contain .svn directories, file status and context-sensitive support automatically becomes active for Subversion versioned projects.

Checking out Files from a Repository

If you want to connect to a remote repository from the IDE, then check out files and immediately begin working with them, do the following:

  1. In NetBeans IDE, choose Versioning > Subversion > Checkout from the main menu. The Checkout wizard opens.

    Note: The IDE's drop-down menus are context-sensitive, i.e. the available options depend on the item currently selected. Therefore, if you are already working within a Subversion project, you can choose Versioning > Checkout from the main menu.
  2. In the first panel of the wizard, enter a URL that contains the connection protocol and location of the repository you want to connect to.

    The IDE supports the following protocol types:

    Protocol Access Method Example
    file Direct repository access (on local disk) file:///repository_path
    http Access via WebDAV protocol to a Subversion-aware server http://hostname/repository_path
    https Access via HTTP protocol with SSL encryption https://hostname/repository_path
    svn Access via custom protocol to an svnserve server svn://hostname/repository_path
    svn+ssh Access via SVN protocol through an external SSH tunnel svn+ssh://hostname/repository_path

    Depending on the protocol you are using, you may need to enter other information, such as username and password (e.g. for http://, https://, or svn://), or in the case of svn+ssh://, you must supply the command to establish the external tunnel.

    Note: If you are trying to implement certificated authentication with https, see: How to connect to a Subversion repository using user-certified authentication.

    For more help with svn+ssh, see: How do I set up SVN with SSH Subversion?
  3. If you are using a proxy, be sure to click the Proxy Configuration button and enter any required information. When you are certain your connection settings to the repository are correct, click Next.
  4. In the Folders to Checkout panel of the wizard, specify the folder that you want to check out in the Repository Folder(s) field. If you do not know the name of the folder you want to check out, click the Browse button to view all folders currently maintained in the repository. From the Browse Repository Folders dialog that appears, select any of the listed folders and click OK. The selected folder is then added to the Repository Folder(s) field ('MyProject' entered in screen capture below):

    Subversion Checkout Wizard: Folders to Checkout panel
  5. Enter a Revision number in the Repository Revision field, otherwise leave it empty, implying that you want to check out the folder HEAD, or most recent revision.
  6. In the Local Folder field, enter a location on your computer where you want files to be checked out to. Leave the Scan for NetBeans Projects after Checkout option selected, then click Finish to initiate the check out action. The IDE checks out the specified sources and the IDE's status bar indicates the progress of the files downloading from the repository to your local working directory. You can also view files as they are being checked out from the Output window (Ctrl-4).

    Note: If the checked out sources contain NetBeans projects, a dialog appears prompting you to open them in the IDE. If the sources do not contain a project, the dialog appears prompting you to create a new project from the sources and then open them in the IDE. If you create a new project for such sources, select the appropriate project category (i.e. in the New Project wizard) and then use the With Existing Sources option within that category.

Importing Files into a Repository.

Alternately, you can import a project you have been working on in the IDE to a remote repository, then continue to work on it in the IDE after it has become synchronized.

Note: While you are actually exporting files from your system, the term 'import' is used in version control systems to signify that files are being imported into a repository.

To import a project to a repository:

  1. From the Projects window (Ctrl-1), select an unversioned project and choose Versioning > Import into Subversion Repository from the node's right-click menu. The Subversion Import wizard opens.
  2. In the Subversion Repository panel of the Import wizard, specify the protocol and location of the Subversion repository as defined by the Subversion URL. Depending on your selection, you may need to specify further settings, such as repository username and password, or, in the case of svn+ssh://, you must specify the tunnel command to establish the external tunnel. See the Subversion User FAQ for further details. Click Next.
  3. In the Repository Folder panel, specify the repository folder in which you want to place the project in the repository. A folder containing the name of your project is suggested for you in the Repository Folder text field by default.
  4. In the text area beneath Specify the Message, enter a description of the project you are importing into the repository.
  5. Click Finish to initiate the import, or optionally, click Next to continue to a third panel that enables you to preview all files that are prepared for import. From this panel, you can choose to exclude individual files from the import (as shown below), or identify the MIME types of files before importing.

    Subversion Checkout Wizard: Folders to Checkout panel

    Upon clicking Finish, the IDE uploads the project files to the repository and the Output window opens to display the progress.

Editing Sources

Once you have a Subversion versioned project opened in the IDE, you can begin making changes to sources. As with any project opened in NetBeans IDE, you can open files in the Source Editor by double-clicking on their nodes, as they appear in the IDE's windows (e.g. Projects (Ctrl-1), Files (Ctrl-2), Favorites (Ctrl-3) windows).

When working with sources in the IDE, there are various UI components at your disposal, which aid in both viewing and operating version control commands:

Viewing Changes in the Source Editor

When you open a versioned file in the IDE's Source Editor, you can view real-time changes occurring to your file as you modify it against your previously checked-out base version from the repository. As you work, the IDE uses color encoding in the Source Editor's margins to convey the following information:

Blue (       ) Indicates lines that have been changed since the earlier revision.
Green (       ) Indicates lines that have been added since the earlier revision.
Red (       ) Indicates lines that have been removed since the earlier revision.

The Source Editor's left margin shows changes occurring on a line-by-line basis. When you modify a given line, changes are immediately shown in the left margin.

You can click on a color grouping in the margin to call versioning commands. For example, the screen capture below left shows widgets available to you when clicking a red icon, indicating that lines have been removed from your local copy.

The Source Editor's right margin provides you with an overview that displays changes made to your file as a whole, from top to bottom. Color encoding is generated immediately when you make changes to your file.

Note that you can click on a specific point within the margin to bring your inline cursor immediately to that location in the file. To view the number of lines affected, hover your mouse over the colored icons in the right margin:

versioning color encoding displayed in editor's left margin
Left margin
versioning color encoding displayed in editor's right margin
Right margin

Viewing File Status Information

When you are working in the Projects (Ctrl-1), Files (Ctrl-2), Favorites (Ctrl-3), or Versioning windows, the IDE provides several visual features that aid in viewing status information about your files. In the example below, notice how the badge (e.g. blue badge), color of the file name, and adjacent status label, all coincide with each other to provide you with a simple but effective way to keep track of versioning information on your files:

blue badge displayed in Favorites window

Badges, color coding, file status labels, and perhaps most importantly, the Versioning window all contribute to your ability to effectively view and manage and versioning information in the IDE.

Badges and Color Coding

Badges are applied to project, folder, and package nodes and inform you of the status of files contained within that node:

The following table displays the color scheme used for badges:

UI Component Description
Blue Badge (blue badge) Indicates the presence of files that have been locally modified, added or deleted. For packages, this badge applies only to the package itself and not its subpackages. For projects or folders, the badge indicates changes within that item, or any of the contained subfolders.
Red Badge (red badge) Marks projects, folders or packages that contain conflicting files (i.e. local versions that conflict with versions maintained in the repository). For packages, this badge applies only to the package itself and not its subpackages. For projects or folders, the badge indicates conflicts within that item, or any of the contained subfolders.

Color coding is applied to file names in order to indicate their current status against the repository:

Color Example Description
Blue blue text Indicates that the file has been locally modified.
Green green text Indicates that the file has been locally added.
Red red text Indicates that the file contains conflicts between your local working copy and the repository's version.
Gray gray text Indicates that the file is ignored by Subversion and will not be included in versioning commands (e.g. Update and Commit). Files can only be made to be ignored if they have not yet been versioned.
Strike-Through strike-through text Indicates that the file is excluded from commit operations. Strike-through text only appears in specific locations, such as the Versioning window or Commit dialog, when you choose to exclude individual files from a commit action. Such files are still affected by other Subversion commands, such as Update.

File Status Labels

File status labels provide a textual indication of the status of versioned files in the IDE's windows. By default, the IDE displays the revision number and status (new, modified, ignored, etc.) in gray text to the right of files, as they are listed in windows:

file labels displayed next to file names

File status labels can be toggled on and off by choosing View > Show Versioning Labels from the main menu.

The Versioning Window

The Subversion Versioning window provides you with a real-time list of all of the changes made to files within a selected folder of your local working copy. It opens by default in the bottom panel of the IDE, listing added, deleted or modified files.

To open the Versioning window, select a versioned file or folder (e.g. from the Projects, Files, or Favorites window) and either choose Subversion > Show Changes from the right-click menu, or choose Versioning > Show Changes from the main menu. The following window appears in the bottom of the IDE:

versioning window displaying locally modified files

By default, the Versioning window displays a list of all modified files within the selected package or folder. Using the buttons in the toolbar, you can choose to display all changes or limit the list of displayed files to either locally or remotely modified files. You can also click the column headings above the listed files to sort the files by name, status or location.

The Versioning window toolbar also includes buttons that enable you to invoke the most common Subversion tasks on all files displayed in the list. The following table lists the Subversion commands available in the toolbar of the Versioning window:

Icon Name Function
refresh status icon Refresh Status Refreshes the status of the selected files and folders. Files displayed in the Versioning window can be refreshed to reflect any changes that may have been made externally.
diff all icon Diff All Opens the Diff Viewer providing you with a side-by-side comparison of your local copies and the versions maintained in the repository.
update all icon Update All Updates all selected files from the repository.
commit all icon Commit All Enables you to commit local changes to the repository.

You can access other Subversion commands in the Versioning window by selecting a table row that corresponds to a modified file, and choosing a command from the right-click menu:

right-click menu displayed on selected file in Versioning window

For example, you can perform the following actions on a file:

  • Show Annotations:

    Displays author and revision number information in the left margin of files opened in the Source Editor.
annotations displayed in Source Editor's left margin
  • Search History:

    Enables you to search for and compare multiple revisions of the selected file in the IDE's History Viewer.
Subversion History Viewer displaying multiple revisions on a file
  • Exclude from Commit:

    Allows you to mark the file to be excluded when performing a commit.
files marked as excluded in the Commit dialog
  • Revert Delete:

    Opens the Revert Modifications dialog, enabling you to revert any delete actions that you have committed to files in your local working copy. The specified file(s) are retrieved from the IDE's local history archive and reinstated into your local working copy.

    (This action only displays when you have deleted items from the selected folder.)
files marked as excluded in the Commit dialog
  • Revert Modifications:

    Opens the Revert Modifications dialog which you can use to specify parameters for reverting any local changes to revisions maintained in the repository.

    When specifying revision(s), you can click Search to open the Search Revisions dialog. This scans the repository and lists all file revisions based on the date you specify.
files marked as excluded in the Commit dialog

Comparing File Revisions

Comparing file revisions is a common task when working with versioned projects. The IDE enables you to compare revisions by using the Diff command, which is available from the right-click menu of a selected item (Subversion > Diff), as well as from the Versioning window. In the Versioning window, you can perform diffs by either double-clicking a listed file, otherwise you can click the Diff All icon (diff all icon) located in the toolbar at the top.

When you perform a diff, a graphical Diff Viewer opens for the selected file(s) and revisions in the IDE's main window. The Diff Viewer displays two copies in side-by-side panels. The more current copy appears on the right side, so if you are comparing a repository revision against your working copy, the working copy displays in the right panel:

Subversion Diff Viewer

The Diff Viewer makes use of the same color encoding used elsewhere to display version control changes. In the screen capture displayed above, the green block indicates content that has been added to the more current revision. The red block indicates that content from the earlier revision has been removed from the later. Blue indicates that changes have occurred within the highlighted line(s).

Also, when performing a diff on a group of files, such as on a project, package, or folder, or when clicking Diff All (diff all icon), you can switch between diffs by clicking files listed in the upper region of the Diff Viewer.

The Diff Viewer also provides you with the following functionality:

Make Changes to your Local Working Copy

If you are performing a diff on your local working copy, NetBeans IDE 6.0 enables you to make changes directly from within the Diff Viewer. To do so, you can either place your cursor within the right pane of the Diff Viewer and modify your file accordingly, otherwise make use of the inline icons that display adjacent to each highlighted change:

Replace (replace icon): Inserts the highlighted text from the previous revision into the current revision
Move All (move all icon): Reverts the file's current revision to the state of the selected previous revision
Remove (remove icon): Removes the highlighted text from the current revision so that it mirrors the previous revision

Navigate among Differences between Compared Files

If your diff contains multiple differences, you can navigate among them by using the arrow icons displayed in the toolbar. The arrow icons enable you to view differences as they appear from top to bottom:

Previous (previous difference button): Goes to previous difference displayed in the diff
Next (next difference button): Goes to next difference displayed in the diff

Change Viewing Criteria

You can choose whether to view files containing changes from the local working copy, the repository, as well as both simultaneously:

Local (locally modified icon): Displays locally modified files only
Remote (remotely modified icon): Displays remotely modified files only
Both (locally and remotely modified icon): Displays both locally and remotely modified files

Committing Sources to a Repository

After making changes to sources, you commit them to the repository. It is generally a good idea to update any copies you have against the repository prior to performing a commit in order to ensure that conflicts do not arise. Conflicts can occur however, and should be thought of as a natural event when numerous developers are working on a project simultaneously. The IDE provides flexible support that enables you to perform all of these functions. It also provides a Conflict Resolver which allows you to safely deal with any conflicts as they occur.

Updating Local Copies

You can perform updates by choosing Subversion > Update from the right-click menu of any versioned item in the Projects, Files, or Favorites windows. When working directly from the Versioning window, you need only right-click a listed file and choose Update.

To perform an update on sources that you have modified, you can click the Update All icon (update all icon), which displays in the toolbars located at the top of both the Versioning Window, as well as the Diff Viewer. Any changes that may have occurred in the repository are displayed in the Versioning Output window.

Resolving Conflicts

When you perform an update or a commit, the IDE's Subversion support compares your files with repository sources to make sure that other changes have not already occurred in the same locations. When your previous checkout (or update) no longer matches the repository HEAD (i.e. most current revision), and the changes that you applied to your local working copy coincide with areas in the HEAD that have also changed, your update or commit results in a conflict.

As indicated in Badges and Color Coding, conflicts are displayed in the IDE with red text and are accompanied by a red badge (red badge) when viewed in the Projects, Files, or Favorites windows. When working in the Versioning window, conflicts are also indicated by a file's status:

file conflict displayed in Versioning window

Any conflicts that arise must be resolved before you commit files to the repository. You can resolve conflicts in the IDE using the Merge Conflicts Resolver. The Merge Conflicts Resolver provides an intuitive interface that enables you to address individual conflicts sequentially while viewing merged output as you make changes. You can access the Merge Conflicts Resolver on a file that is in conflict by right-clicking that file and choosing Subversion > Resolve Conflicts.

The Merge Conflicts Resolver displays the two conflicting revisions side-by-side in the top pane, with the conflicting areas highlighted. The lower pane depicts the file as it appears while merges for individual conflicts between the two revisions occur:

Conflict Resolver displaying a conflicted file

You resolve a conflict by accepting one of the two revisions displayed in the top pane. Click the Accept button of the revision you want to accept. The IDE merges the accepted revision with the source file, and you can immediately see the results of the merge in the bottom pane of the Merge Conflicts Resolver. Once all conflicts are resolved, click OK to exit the Merge Conflicts Resolver and save the modified file. The conflict badge is removed and you can now commit the modified file to the repository.

Performing the Commit

After editing source files, performing an update and resolving any conflicts, you commit files from your local working copy to the repository. The IDE enables you to call the commit command in the following ways:

The Commit dialog opens, displaying files that are about to be committed to the repository:

Commit dialog displaying files about to be committed

The Commit dialog lists:

From the Commit dialog, it is possible to specify whether to exclude individual files from the commit. To do so, click the Commit Action column of a selected file and choose Exclude from Commit from the drop-down list. Similarly, when new files are included, you can specify the MIME type by choosing Add as Binary or Add as Text from the drop-down list.

To perform the commit:

  1. Type in a commit message in the Commit Message text area. Alternatively, click the Recent Messages (recent messages icon) icon located in the upper right corner to view and select from a list of messages that you have previously used.
  2. After specifying actions for individual files, click Commit. The IDE executes the commit and sends your local changes to the repository. The IDE's status bar, located in the bottom right of the interface, displays as the commit action takes place. Upon a successful commit, versioning badges disappear in the Projects, Files and Favorites windows, and the color encoding of committed files returns to black.
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Next Steps

This concludes the Guided Tour of Subversion for NetBeans IDE 6.0. This document demonstrated how to perform basic versioning tasks in the IDE by guiding you through the standard workflow when using the IDE's Subversion support. It has shown how to set up a versioned project and perform basic tasks on versioned files while introducing you to some of the new Subversion features included in NetBeans IDE 6.0.

For related documents, see the following resources: