While the Subversion client is not a full DeltaV client, and the Subversion server is not a full DeltaV server, there's still a glimmer of WebDAV interoperability to be happy about: autoversioning.

Autoversioning is an optional feature defined in the DeltaV standard. A typical DeltaV server will reject an ignorant WebDAV client attempting to do a PUT to a file that's under version control. To change a version-controlled file, the server expects a series of proper versioning requests: something like MKACTIVITY, CHECKOUT, PUT, CHECKIN. But if the DeltaV server supports autoversioning, write requests from basic WebDAV clients are accepted. The server behaves as though the client had issued the proper series of versioning requests, performing a commit under the hood. In other words, it allows a DeltaV server to interoperate with ordinary WebDAV clients that don't understand versioning.

Because so many operating systems already have integrated WebDAV clients, the use case for this feature can be incredibly appealing to administrators working with non-technical users. Imagine an office of ordinary users running Microsoft Windows or Mac OS. Each user mounts the Subversion repository, which appears to be an ordinary network folder. They use the shared folder as they always do: open files, edit them, and save them. Meanwhile, the server is automatically versioning everything. Any administrator (or knowledgeable user) can still use a Subversion client to search history and retrieve older versions of data.

This scenario isn't fiction—it's real and it works. To activate autoversioning in mod_dav_svn, use the SVNAutoversioning directive within the httpd.conf Location block, like so:

<Location /repos>
  DAV svn
  SVNPath /var/svn/repository
  SVNAutoversioning on
</Location>

When Subversion autoversioning is active, write requests from WebDAV clients result in automatic commits. A generic log message is automatically generated and attached to each revision.

Before activating this feature, however, understand what you're getting into. WebDAV clients tend to do many write requests, resulting in a huge number of automatically committed revisions. For example, when saving data, many clients will do a PUT of a 0-byte file (as a way of reserving a name) followed by another PUT with the real file data. The single file-write results in two separate commits. Also consider that many applications auto-save every few minutes, resulting in even more commits.

If you have a post-commit hook program that sends email, you may want to disable email generation either altogether or on certain sections of the repository; it depends on whether you think the influx of emails will still prove to be valuable notifications or not. Also, a smart post-commit hook program can distinguish between a transaction created via autoversioning and one created through a normal Subversion commit operation. The trick is to look for a revision property named svn:autoversioned. If present, the commit was made by a generic WebDAV client.

Another feature that may be a useful complement for Subversion's autoversioning comes from Apache's mod_mime module. If a WebDAV client adds a new file to the repository, there's no opportunity for the user to set the the svn:mime-type property. This might cause the file to appear as a generic icon when viewed within a WebDAV shared folder, not having an association with any application. One remedy is to have a sysadmin (or other Subversion-knowledgeable person) check out a working copy and manually set the svn:mime-type property on necessary files. But there's potentially no end to such cleanup tasks. Instead, you can use the ModMimeUsePathInfo directive in your Subversion <Location> block:

<Location /repos>
  DAV svn
  SVNPath /var/svn/repository
  SVNAutoversioning on

  ModMimeUsePathInfo on

</Location>

This directive allows mod_mime to attempt automatic deduction of the MIME type on new files that enter the repository via autoversioning. The module looks at the file's named extension and possibly the contents as well; if the file matches some common patterns, the file's svn:mime-type property will be set automatically.