Quick SVN guide for Git users; SVN: The Git Way

Why would a Git user want to switch to SVN, you ask?

Well, sometimes you just don’t have a choice. Imagine working on a project that has been maintained in SVN since a decade. “But migrating an SVN codebase to Git is not a big deal at all.” But there is stuff like CI/CD integrations to worry about too. That isn’t a really big deal either but sometimes people take “Don’t fix what ain’t broken.” a little too seriously.

Reasons aside, having a good Version Control System (Distributed VCS for that matter) concepts, I didn’t want to go SVN guides from the scratch to start with. While there were plenty of resources on the web regarding SVN to Git migration, I couldn’t’ find a quick and concise guide that would help me work with an SVN repo right away. If you are like me, you will find this article helpful. The following steps show you how can work with SVN the Git way.

Cloning a new repo

Checking out a repo is similar to how we do it in Git.

$ svn checkout <path-to-your-repo-branch> <path-to-checkout>


The following checks out your code to your current working directory.

$ svn checkout https://mysvnrepo.com/myrepo/trunk .

Creating a new topic branch

In SVN, branches (and tags) are nothing but a simply a copy of one branch. A literal copy-paste of the files, unlike pointer to commits in Git. This fact took me a while to digest and get used to.

The following commands are SVN equivalent to git checkout -b branch.

$ svn copy <path-to-a-branch> <path-for-new-branch> -m "Message"


$ svn copy --parents https://mysvnrepo.com/myrepo/trunk https://mysvnrepo.com/myrepo/branches/feature-branch
$ svn switch https://mysvnrepo.com/myrepo/branches/feature-branch

Working on the repo

Adding new files

To add new files, you would use:

$ svn add <path-to-file>

As for modified files, we don’t need to add them. We can straight away commit.

$ svn commit -m "Commit message"

To commit only specific files, we need to list files after the commit message.

$ svn commit -m "Commit message" <path-to-file-1> <path-to-file-2>

If we want to commit a single file, we can do the following too.

$ svn commit <path-to-file> -m "Commit message"

Checking out new changes

The following is the SVN equivalent to git fetch && git merge or git pull.

$ svn update

Merging your feature branch to trunk

Merging a branch in SVN is similar to how we do it in Git.

$ svn merge <path-to-branch>


$ svn update
$ svn switch https://mysvnrepo.com/myrepo/trunk
$ svn update
$ svn merge https://mysvnrepo.com/myrepo/branches/feature-branch
$ svn commit -m "Merge feature branch to trunk"

Deleting feature branch after merging

To delete a feature branch (or any branch for that matter), svn delete is used.


$ svn delete https://mysvnrepo.com/myrepo/branches/feature-branch -m "Delete feature branch after merging"


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