Theory is useful, but its application is just plain fun. Let's move now into the details of using Subversion. By the time you reach the end of this chapter, you will be able to perform all the tasks you need to use Subversion in a normal day's work. You'll start with getting your files into Subversion, followed by an initial checkout of your code. We'll then walk you through making changes and examining those changes. You'll also see how to bring changes made by others into your working copy, examine them, and work through any conflicts that might arise.

This chapter will not provide exhaustive coverage of all of Subversion's commands—rather, it's a conversational introduction to the most common Subversion tasks that you'll encounter. This chapter assumes that you've read and understood Chapter 1, Fundamental Concepts and are familiar with the general model of Subversion. For a complete reference of all commands, see Chapter 9, Subversion Complete Reference.

Also, this chapter assumes that the reader is seeking information about how to interact in a basic fashion with an existing Subversion repository. No repository means no working copy; no working copy means not much of interest in this chapter. There are many Internet sites which offer free or inexpensive Subversion repository hosting services. Or, if you'd prefer to set up and administer your own repositories, check out Chapter 5, Repository Administration. But don't expect the examples in this chapter to work without the user having access to a Subversion repository.

Finally, any Subversion operation that contacts the repository over a network may potentially require that the user authenticate. For the sake of simplicity, our examples throughout this chapter avoid demonstrating and discussing authentication. Be aware that if you hope to apply the knowledge herein to an existing, real-world Subversion instance, you'll probably be forced to provide at least a username and password to the server. See the section called “Client Credentials” for a detailed description of Subversion's handling of authentication and client credentials.