HTML and CSS Reference
directory to another. By contrast, web developers frequently reorganize site structures (more frequently than
they should, in fact). Consequently, a system really needs to be able to track histories across file moves. If your
organization has already set up some other source code control system such as CVS, Visual SourceSafe,
ClearCase, or Perforce, you can use that system instead; but Subversion is likely to work better and cause you
fewer problems in the long run.
The topic of managing Subversion could easily fill a topic on its own; and indeed, several such topics are
available. (My favorite is Pragmatic Version Control Using Subversion by Mike Mason [The Pragmatic Bookshelf,
2006].) Many large sites hire people whose sole responsibility is to manage the source code control repository.
However, don't be scared off. Ultimately, setting up Subversion or another source code control repository is no
harder than setting up Apache or another web server. You'll need to read a little documentation. You'll need to
tweak some config files, and you may need to ask for help from a newsgroup or conduct a Google search to get
around a rough spot. However, it's eminently doable, and it's well worth the time invested.
You can check files into or out of Subversion from the command line if necessary. However, life is usually
simpler if you use an editor such as BBEdit that has built-in support for Subversion. Plug-ins are available that
add Subversion support to editors such as Dreamweaver that don't natively support it. Furthermore, products
such as Tortoise-SVN and SCPlugin are available that integrate Subversion support directly into Windows
Explorer or the Mac Finder.
Some content management systems (CMSs) have built-in version control. If yours does, you may not need to
use an external repository. For instance, MediaWiki stores a record of all changes that have been made to all
pages. It is possible at any point to see what any given page looked like at any moment in time and to revert to
that appearance. This is critical for MediaWiki's model installation at Wikipedia, where vandalism is a real
problem. However, even private sites that are not publicly editable can benefit greatly from a complete history
of the site over time. Although Wikis are the most common use of version control on the Web, some other CMSs
such as Siteline also bundle this functionality.