What Needs Doing?

There are a lot of different things you can do to help Subversion. Not all involve coding; there are plenty of non-programming roles for eager volunteers.

Below are some of the needs we've identified, but please don't take these as gospel! New volunteers bring fresh viewpoints, and one of the most important things you can do is point out a need we hadn't recognized before — and then fill it.

Google Summer of Code Tasks

These are the ideas that the Subversion developers have for Google Summer of Code applicants. These are just some ideas — if you have other ideas, we're happy to consider them too, please just post them to dev@subversion.tigris.org.

However, please don't select tasks in the other sections of this page as your Summer of Code proposal, as those are either not the right size for the Summer of Code, or are not coding tasks and therefore not eligible.

You should also read the Hacker's Guide to Subversion before starting out on a proposal. Don't hesitate to ask for details or start discussing one of these tasks on the dev@subversion.tigris.org mailing list (see here for subscription information).

In fact, please discuss your task on the mailing list regardless of whether you've submitted your application yet. Eagerness to engage with the rest of the Subversion development community will be considered favourable in evaluating your application.

If you have questions about the application process, compensation, or the Google Summer of Code program in general, please see the program FAQ

Deselection interface for sparse directories.

See issue #2843.

Although we now support sparse checkouts, we do not yet have any way to remove subtrees from a working copy once they have been brought in. This task involves coming up with an interface specification first (via list discussion), and then implementing it.

Make commit descend into svn:externals directories.

See issue #1167.

See also issue 2325 (svn cleanup should follow svn:external references).

Better DAV interoperability.

Over DAV (http://), Subversion should map the svn:executable and svn:mime-type to the DAV-standard props, for better interoperability with existing DAV clients.

See issue #1345.

Show progress output.

Improve the progress output displayed during update and commit.

See Issue #1264 and issue #901.

More customizable behavior for diff.

Fully customizable external diff invocations, and support for external diff commands for non-text types.

See Issue #2044 and issue #2447.

Authz improvements

Note: Summer of Code may require two or more depending on complexity.

  • 2445: Allow users to change passwords.

  • 2958/2662: Authz path wildcards; these are probably duplicate issues, and the latter one has a patch already, though it may be out-of-date now.

  • 2338 mod_authz_svn should be able to use httpd's groups config.

  • 2143 Additional authz action controls (e.g., add/remove files).

Interactive merge source selection

See issue #3065.

Allow Commit from multiple working copies

Currently, 'svn commit' cannot commit changes that are located in two or more disconnected working copies (lacking a common parent), even if those working copies belong to the same repository. This is a fairly common need for users that work on multiple projects that are all stored in the same repository and need to commit the changes for multiple projects in a single atomic commit transaction.

There are several issues in the issue tracker that describe the problem in more detail (see issue #2381).

Operation and error logging for svnserve (issue #2409):

Subversion 1.3.0 added support for operational logging in mod_dav_svn. That is, logging what actual client-side operations are performed on a repository, rather than just logging the endless flow of WebDAV requests. Support for this kind of logging, as well as error logging, needs to be added to the standalone svnserve daemon. This requires some work in the APR library, which would provide the actual logging facility.

This has been extensively discussed on the Subversion development mailing list in the past. A good first step would be to review the previous proposals.

This task may have been started at http://svn.collab.net/repos/svn/branches/svnserve-logging.

An augmented diff representation

Currently, 'svn diff' outputs a patch in the so-called "Unified diff" format. The problem is, this format is fairly old, and as such can represent only textual differences between files. It does not represent structural changes to the directory tree, nor can it encompass changes to various metadata, the kind used extremely frequently by Subversion.

'svn diff' actually has two or three use cases. The first is to produce a human-reviewable description of a change suitable for code review. The second (and maybe third) are to produce a file that can be sent by email or stored somewhere for later application, by patch(1) (the second use case) or some other more-capable patch tool (the third use case). Of these, 'svn diff' currently only supports the first case. For example, copied files are currently shown as differences against the original version of the file, which makes review easier, though isn't suitable for applying with patch.

This task is: First, to propose a solution for serialising a complete representation of a change. Then, implement that solution with a new switch to 'svn diff' and a new subcommand ('svn patch'?) that would apply a previously created serialised patch.

Things to consider in your design of the serialisation format:

  • Whether it represents content diffs in a human-readable format (probably using the unified diff format), Subversion's native binary delta format, or some other format. Considerations include non-precise (fuzzy) patching and representing changes to binary files.
  • Whether it should be compatible (to some degree) with patch(1) (by encoding extra information in a "garbage" chunk of data that patch will ignore, similar to the way property changes are reported today).
  • How renames (when eventually implemented as a primitive operation) should be represented.

Note that SVK posesses such a rich unified diff format. It may or may not be desirable to reuse the same kind of representation; that decision is part of the task!

This task may have been started at http://svn.collab.net/repos/svn/branches/svnpatch-diff.

Information Management Tasks

These are non-coding tasks, so they are NOT eligible for Google Summer of Code. If you have come here from the Summer of Code pages, skip this section of the page.

Issue Management

Do we need an Issue Manager? Maybe...

The Subversion bug database has been managed in a rather ad hoc fashion thus far. Periodically we make sweeps over all outstanding issues and try to prioritize them, organize them into scheduled milestones, note dependencies between issues, etc. These methods have been moderately successful up till now, but they are not scaling well as the number of issues grows. Since issue growth is proportional to user base growth, the issue tracker is becoming a victim of Subversion's success. We need to find new ways of managing our issues, ways that do not involve making O(N) sweeps over the entire list of open issues at regular intervals.

While we have some semi-formalized management roles (patch manager, release manager, etc), we have never had an issue manager. It might be time to get one, though. It's not yet clear whether the problem is mainly one of attention, or of algorithm, or both, but having someone dedicated to managing the issues database couldn't hurt. One thing such a person could do would be to go through the list of outstanding issues, figure out which ones are likely to be bite-sized tasks, and mark them as such, so that other volunteers have an easier time choosing things to work on. We've already marked various issues as bite-sized, but we haven't done so consistently as new issues come in. This means there are a lot of potential entry points to the project going unnoticed. Want to help us solve that?

Creative ideas welcome! If you'd like to help with this, please subscribe to the dev@subversion.tigris.org mailing list and post your thoughts.

FAQ Management

We need a FAQ manager. A FAQ manager is someone who stays subscribed to the users@subversion.tigris.org and dev@subversion.tigris.org mailing lists, watches for common questions or addenda to existing questions, and slowly adjusts the Subversion FAQ in response to the problems users are having "in the wild". This is also a great way to get familiar with Subversion usage patterns and common problems. If you use or administrate Subversion anyway, helping to manage the FAQ is a great way to expand your troubleshooting skills.

Again, creative ideas are most welcome. Please post to the dev@subversion.tigris.org mailing list if you're interested in this.

Bite-Sized Coding Tasks

The Subversion bug database contains many issues classified as "bite-sized" tasks — tasks that are well-defined and self-contained, and thus suitable for a volunteer looking to get involved with the project. You don't need broad or detailed knowledge of Subversion's design to take on one of these, just a pretty good idea of how things generally work, and familiarity with the coding guidelines in the Hacker's Guide to Subversion. Many tasks are things a volunteer could pick off in a spare week or two, and they're a great way to start learning your way around the Subversion code.

If you start one of these tasks, please notify the other developers by marking the issue as "STARTED" in the issue tracker, then mail dev@subversion.tigris.org (subscribe to that list too) with questions. Don't be shy, it's a very civil mailing list.

When you're ready to send in a patch, see the patch posting guidelines. Don't be discouraged if your patch goes through several iterations of review by other developers; this is normal.

Here is the list of all bite-sized tasks.

Larger (But Not Necessarily Huge) Coding Tasks

The tasks listed below are bigger than bite-sized, but probably don't require new research to solve. In other words, most of them are a Simple Matter Of Programming. You'd need to either be, or be willing to become, familiar with Subversion's internals to solve one of these.

As with the bite-sized tasks, please read the Hacker's Guide to Subversion and don't hesitate to ask questions on the users@subversion.tigris.org and dev@subversion.tigris.org mailing lists (see here for subscription information). Before posting any patches, see the patch posting guidelines.

For groups of tasks tied to specific releases, peruse the status page. For a longer-term view of Subversion's vision, see the road map.

issue #1254, etc: Improve error messages

Too many of Subversion's error messages are terse or confusing. Many instances are recorded in issue #1254, but see also issues #2302, #2295, and #2275.

Improved Bindings to Other Languages

One of Subversion's strengths is that it offers a rich set of "binding surfaces": well-documented APIs that are available not only in C (Subversion's native language) but in other programming languages as well (see the complete list).

Some of these language bindings are maintained via SWIG, a tool that partially automates the process of generating bindings, while others are maintained by hand. Many of the bindings do not have complete coverage yet, or have interface problems where they do have coverage. So even though they're used in many production systems, there's still plenty of work to do. Specifically:

All Open Issues

You want to see the complete list of open bugs, in all its glory? Don't say we didn't warn you...