SmartGit SmartSVN

SVN vs. Git

I’m now having a couple of years experience in using our SVN-client SmartSVN, but I would not call me an "SVN expert". Since approximately a half year we are using Git to develop our Git-client SmartGit, but I’m definitely neither a Git expert nor an experienced Git user. To be honest, I’m only using the Git features which are available in SmartGit, because I can’t remember all the command line options. Nevertheless, I think I have a good overview over both tools, especially, because I use both for my daily work.

A couple of the following differences might not be just differences between SVN and Git, but differences between classical VCS and distributed VCS (DVCS) in general. Here are some sketched differences in random order which came to my mind when I was asked by a SmartSVN customer:

Git can be used off-line

With SVN you have pristine copies of the files available in the admin-areas which allow, e.g., to see the local uncommitted changes without connection to the SVN server. But if you have to commit your changes, you will need the network connection to the SVN server. With Git you can commit your changes as you like, because you have your own copy of the repository locally available. Only if you want to synchronize your repository with an external one, you need the network connection.

Git has incredible Log performance

Because Git has its own repository locally available, showing a log is a very fast operation. It is not necessary to transfer all the information over network. (We have put quite a lot of effort into SmartSVN’s Log Cache to obtain similar performance.)

Git versions files, SVN also directories

Git, just like CVS, versions only files. You can’t store an empty directory in the repository like with SVN.

Admin files

Git has just one location for its admin files, the .git directory in the root of your working tree. SVN currently scatters its .svn directories over the whole working copy. This makes restructuring (moving or copying) files or directories with Git a no-brainer — with SVN you always have to take care to not move or copy the .svn files to not screw up your working copy. A side-effect is, that reading a Git working tree is much faster than reading a comparably large SVN working copy.


SVN supports file or directory properties, Git doesn’t. These SVN properties allow, for example, to

  • store patterns for files to be ignored (you can define what files/directories should be ignored, but only using .gitignore files similar to the .cvsignore files in CVS)
  • define the file type for certain files
  • define the line separators which should be used for files
  • define URL patterns for the issue tracker, so an SVN-client like SmartSVN can detect issue numbers in commit messages and show them as links


SVN has a clear definition of the encoding to use for storing file names or commit messages in the repository (UTF-8). This makes it very platform-independent.
You can configure Git to use some special encoding, but it does not enforce it. This reduces Gits inherent platform-independence significantly.

Tagging, Branching

SVN does not have a special tag or branch feature, but the ability to create light-weight copies of whole directory structures can be used in combination with a special repository structure to achieve that. Unfortunately, a lot of SVN users don’t follow the standard repository structure suggested by the SVN team and reinvent their own. This makes it hard for tools like SmartSVN to "transparently" support tags and branches.
Git supports tagging and branching as a native feature. In combination with the locally available repository, this has the outstanding advantage that you can create as many local branches you like, e.g. to implement larger features, without the need to store such “shelves” in the central repository.

Multi-Project Repositories

With SVN usually a couple of projects are stored in the same repository, separated only by a certain repository structure. Users can easily check out only certain parts of a larger repository. With Git you have one repository for one project. Everyone working on the project needs to have the complete repository.


With SVN it is very easy to refer to a repository state by a revision (a plain number). Git instead uses hash-codes which are hard to read and impossible to remember for humans.


When working frequently with binary files, SVN’s locking feature is a convenient way to exclusively reserve a certain file for editing for a while. Due to its distributed nature this is not possible with Git.


SmartSVN 6.0.5

We have released a new bug-fix release for SmartSVN 6. It contains following changes:

Fixed Bugs

  • Check Out: Possible internal error when closing frame during Check Out
  • Commit: Possible internal error when entering commit message
  • Edit Properties: Internal error (only Foundation version)
  • Output: Internal error when performing log on removed file
  • Refresh: Possible internal error
  • Setup/Check for Updates: Proxy does not work

Download SmartSVN 6.0.5


SmartSVN – Revision Graph with merge arrows

Displaying "merge arrows" in the Revision Graph is a feature which has been requested rather frequently since Subversion has introduced "merge tracking". This request comes mainly from (former) ClearCase users.

My personal expectations regarding this feature haven’t been too high. Rather, I was sure that it wouldn’t work well for Subversion but result in an overwhelming maze of merge arrows:
My concerns were that Subversion tracks its merge information by the svn:mergeinfo property which can grow rather complex. It inherits merge information from merge sources, can contain holes and so on.

Nevertheless, after doing some experiments it turned out that these concerns weren’t issues at all. Even for our most complex repository (which contains the shared code base of our products and primarily consists of merge revisions), results were looking promising, as the following screenshot shows:

SmartSVN Revision Graph with merge arrows

The only draw-back is that merge arrows require to scan the svn:mergeinfo for all displayed revisions in the Revision Graph. Currently, SVN provides no efficient way to perform such a query and hence the displaying may take some time.

Finally, we decided that merge arrows will be part of SmartSVN 6.1 and hope to get a first beta build out within the next few weeks.


False trojan alarm for SmartSVN Windows bundles confirmed

Starting today, AVG anti-virus scanner reports a couple of SmartSVN’s files on Windows as trojan (more details here).
We have just received following email from the AVG Customer Services which confirms the false positives and gives instructions on how to deal with them:

Unfortunately, the current virus database version may detect the mentioned virus on some legitimate applications. We can confirm that it is a false alarm. We would like to inform you that the false positive will be removed in the next Definitions update. Please update your AVG and if a new Definitions update was downloaded, check whether the file is still detected.

If you need to restore deleted files from AVG Virus Vault you can do it this way:

  • Open AVG user interface.
  • Choose “Virus Vault” option from the “History” menu.
  • Locate the file that was incorrectly removed and select it (one click).
  • Click on the “Restore” button.

AVG reports trojan for SmartSVN Windows bundles

Starting today at about 2:00 pm (GMT), we are receiving now frequently reports that trojan Downloader.Banload.ANUF is found in the SmartSVN Windows bundles (installer, as well as portable bundle). People reporting this trojan are using the AVG free anti-virus scanner. [Update] AVG has just confirmed the false positives and gives instructions how to handle them.[/Update] The supposedly infected files are:

  • smartsvn.exe (MD5: 6f039e0164c72fe92195fca29eab67f5)
  • smartsvnc.exe (MD5: 5bfb7e22662c3b49bbbf9b1d1d4ac1aa)
  • iconSmartSvnExe (MD5: 6f039e0164c72fe92195fca29eab67f5)

We have checked these files with which tests with different virus scanners and all except AVG can’t find something suspicious. Locally, we have run Avira Antivir and NOD32 which also found the files being clean.

If you are uncertain, please use a different antivirus software to verify, too, and leave us a comment. Thanks!

SmartCvs SmartGit SmartSVN

SmartGit – First Milestone

We are proud to announce the first public version of SmartGit, a client for the distributed version control system Git.

We would like to invite everyone to give this first milestone build a try and share your ideas with us.
Please do not yet expect a mature client like SmartSVN or SmartCVS, but expect SmartGit improving quickly. 🙂

Download SmartGit

Join the SmartGit community

SmartGit requires a Git installation on your system. Basic commands like initializing a new repository, cloning an existing one, staging, unstaging and committing files, fetching remote and pushing local changes, graphical log, simple branching and merging already work.

SmartGit project window on Mac OS X


SmartSVN 6.0.4

We have released a new bug-fix release for SmartSVN 6. It contains following changes:

Fixed Bugs

  • Change Report: Internal error if for a file neither working copy nor pristine copy could be accessed
  • Directory Tree: Possible Internal error if keeping “Scanning” node selected
  • Exit: Internal error when writing the settings on fails
  • File Compare: Internal Error in undo code
  • File name completion: Sorting broken
  • Mac: Window menu’s JRadioButtonMenuItems used to switch between different application windows behave like independent checkboxes (toggle themself)
  • Property Compare: Does not repaint after changing the font in the preferences
  • Refresh: Possible internal error
  • Repository Browser: Internal error when entering URL for “Create Directory” dialog
  • Revision Graph: If invoked from with Repository Browser, Tag-Branch-Layout is not initialized (if necessary)
  • Startup: Internal error when Java Accessibility Bridge is installed for JRE
  • Transactions: Possible internal error for log entries without message (regression since 6.0.2)
  • Transactions: Rollback does not work for projects located at sub-directory of a trunk/branch (according to the Tag-Branch-Layout)
  • Update: Possible internal error
  • Update: Possible internal error for missing directory scheduled for deletion

Other Changes

  • Mac: replaced JavaApplicationStub to be able to use Java 6 after Mac update 10.5.7

Download SmartSVN 6.0.4


Performance Improvements for the Revision Graph

In contrast to other SVN clients, SmartSVN is caching log information locally in a so-called “Log Cache”. The local log information is used to display transactions as well as speeding up the Log and Revision Graph commands.

Generating a Revision Graph from log information is a quite complex operation with SVN (usually the complete repository history has to be analyzed, I don’t want to go into the technical details here). So, for instance showing a Revision Graph on the “build.xml” file from our source tree took approx. one minute with SmartSVN 6. Now, with the new optimized storage and code it takes approx. 5 seconds.