Skip to main content
Enterprise Agile Planning icon with arrows

This post is from the CollabNet VersionOne blog and has not been updated since the original publish date.

Last Updated Mar 06, 2011 — Enterprise Agile Planning expert

Usage of SVN Externals

Enterprise Agile Planning

How do people typically create dependencies using Subversion?

Here are some guidelines:

  • Avoid copying common code; for example, you don’t want JBoss in every java project
  • Be able to easily reference a “pegged” revision of the code.  For example, your project may specifically require version 3_2_6 of JBoss
  • Be able to track the “bleeding edge” of some dependencies, for example, you may want to always stay current on the spring framework you use

A common strategy for dealing with this situation in Subversion is something called the “externals”.  The externals in Subversion could be  a link to another subversion repository.

Since all Subversion repositories are identified by URL, it is easy to construct a reference to an external source.

Externals make use of another feature of Subversion, the property.

Properties are simply name/value pairs.  An example might make this clearer.

Suppose your development project has the following structure:





And our development project component uses JBoss.  We are required to use the latest version of gddwebapps but gddwebapps has specific dependencies on JBoss 3_2_6

And further suppose our development group has setup a repository containing versions of gddwebapps component at this URL:

And the JBoss 3_2_6 is located in another SVN repository

Using the setup below, one would set the built-in subversion property, svn:externals on the /trunk/thirdparty directory.

This property would have this value:


So how would you set this up?

Here is a “How To” example:

Step 1:

cd to …gddwebapptrunkthirdparty directory

Step 2:

svn propset  svn:externals “JBoss 3_2_6”  .

Step 3:  svn commit

Step 4:  svn update

(This will fetch external item into ‘JBoss 3_2_6’)

JBoss_3_2_6 now appears  in the ../gddwebapp/trunk folder (workspace) as illustrated in Figure A.

Figure A

Upon branching i.e. creating a nick_devel branch, external JBoss_3_2_6  appears in the nick_devel workspace as illustrated below in Figures B and C.

Figure B

Figure C

More from the Blog

View more Government Cloud
Apr 12, 2022 Government Cloud receives FedRAMP Authorization through sponsorship from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Enterprise Agile Planning
Flagship Agility solutions can effectively scale agile deve ...
Read More
Nov 22, 2021

What are the qualities of highly effective agile teams?

Enterprise Agile Planning
A team is the core unit of productivity in an agile organization. Wher ...
Read More
Nov 15, 2021

How an open-first attitude revolutionized government tech development

Enterprise Agile Planning
Public perception of government is often that it is slow-moving, reluc ...
Read More
cross functional
Nov 08, 2021

6 best practices for building resilient cross-functional teams

Enterprise Agile Planning
Agile frameworks prize the quality of resilience within every facet of ...
Read More
Contact Us