Thursday, January 17, 2008

SVN on Mac

One nit that I haven't quite gotten over after switching to a Mac over a year ago is the lack of GUI support for SVN. One of the main reasons that I switched in the first place was the combination of a Unix base (the Darwin/XNU kernel) with some nifty keyboard tricks in the window manager using Quicksilver. All in all, it felt (and still feels) a lot like what I want out of a computer: fast
access to a lot of stuff via keyboard. Of course, Apple claims that their usability studies show that mousing is, on average, just as fast or faster than typing. But I get cranky when I have to use the mouse or (shudder) touchpad.

But I digress.

Despite my affinity for everything typing, there are still some times that I just want to be brain-dead and mousing, or maybe I am doing an initial checkout (or import) and I want to see a screen full of options instead of working through the command line.

So that leads me to the journey of countless others. A quick Google search of any permutation of "Mac," "SVN," "GUI," etc. gives a ton of hits, mostly blog posts complaining about the lack of a GUI client for SVN on the Mac.

A while back, I found one neat solution, however: SCPlugin. It's hosted on, the same site that hosts TortoiseSVN (my favorite SVN client on Windows). SCPlugin is great because it integrates with Finder, which prevents me from having to use another application. Sure, Finder has its myriad shortcomings, but I use Terminal for most of my file manipulation, anyhow. Finder does what it needs to just fine for me.

Of course, since I do most of my file manipulation on the command line, the svn binary from MacPorts is indispensable. But for those few moments when I need to do something and I don't care to read through the SVN book, it's pretty useful.

Now the minuses: First and foremost, SCPlugin will not work with an HTTPS server with a self-signed certificate. I imagine that, for most small developers who have a private SVN repo, or any project which does not want to be hosted on SourceForge/Google Code/some other SVN provider, this is how they work. It is very easy to set up Apache+SVN+SSL with a self-signed cert, but SCPlugin chokes on it. At least 0.7.1 bwhatever that I am using. It is an open bug, so at least the light is on it. The alternative could be svn+ssh, but that is not supported in SCPlugin. Sigh. Similarly, it does not support personal SSL certs. While I don't use this, I imagine that it would be a pretty large barrier to entry in a lot of workplaces.

Another option I found is Mac SVN, but it does not appear to be in active development (the timestamp on the last package is January 2007, over a year ago). There is also Syncro SVN, although it is $59.

So for now maybe I can struggle with the command line when I am dealing with the self-signed-cert servers, and/or cough up the cash for an actual SSL cert for my own server. Technically that is the best solution, but it's not the best free solution.

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