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SVK Quick Start
Updated Feb 4, 2010 by

Every member here is highly recommended to use SVK to participate in the development of this project. This document is for the developers who are already familiar with Subversion, but have never used SVK. If you are not familiar with Subversion either, please consider reading the Subversion Book first.


For Debian and Ubuntu, use this command to install SVK:

sudo apt-get install svk

For other distributions, please follow the instructions from SVK's homepage to install SVK.

Setting Up

In order to use SVK to participate in this project, follow these steps to initialize your working environment.


Type this command in your virtual terminal (command line prompt):

svk depotmap

SVK will launch a text editor containing something like this, where yourname is your username:

"": /home/yourname/.svk/local

==edit the above depot map===

Add this line after the second line:

ggl: /home/yourname/.svk/google-gadgets-for-linux

Then save and exit the text editor. Now you have successfully created a local SVK repository. We'll mirror the remote SVN repository into your local SVK repository in the next section.


First, tell SVK the location of the remote SVN repository:

svk mirror /ggl/mirror

Then synchronize the local mirror with the remote repository:

svk sync /ggl/mirror

Now you can leave your computer and have a cup of coffee. After a not-so-short wait, you'll have the entire SVN repository (including all change history) mirrored in your local SVK repository.

Local Copy

Although /ggl/mirror is created on your computer, every operation under this directory is automatically synchronized with the remote SVN repository. Therefore it's preferable to create another local branch in which to work. Branching operation in SVK is a simple copy operation, the same as in SVN:

svk cp /ggl/mirror /ggl/local

Like SVN, SVK will then launch a text editor asking for the committing log. Just type something reasonable and then save and exit the text editor.

Checking Out

Now you can check out code from your local working branch into your working directory. For this, follow a similar procedure as that of SVN:

mkdir ggl
svk co /ggl/local/trunk ggl/trunk
svk co /ggl/mirror/wiki ggl/wiki

Note: as we are not going to do the code review process on the wiki pages, we simply check out the wiki pages from the mirror, not the local.

Utility Scripts

This project provides two simple utilities. svkmail is used for sending out code review requests. svkcommit is used for checking files that you forgot to import into the version control system before committing your change list. We highly recommend you using these tools during your development.

For your convenience, please link these scripts to one of your $PATH searching directories - for example, ~/bin. Then you can run these command more easily:

mkdir -p ~/bin
ln -s ggl/trunk/utils/svkmail ~/bin/svkmail
ln -s ggl/trunk/utils/svkcommit ~/bin/svkci

svkmail can read every parameter it needed from the command line. But saving some of the parameters in the configuration file for svkmail can save you a lot of keystrokes. The configuration file is named .svkmail and must be saved at the top of your checking out directory. svkmail searches for the configuration file in the current working directory and each of the current working directory's successively higher parent directories until the file is located. Therefore you don't need to go to the top level of your checkout directory before running this script. You should put your .svkmail in both ggl/trunk/ and ggl/wiki/.

Here is a recommended sample configuration of svkmail:

# Your E-mail address. Used for sending out code review requests.

# Send review request to this address.
# Note: different modules need to be reviewed by different people.
#       So we recommended that don't uncomment this line, just using
#       -m parameter in the command line every time.

# Cc a copy of the review request to the mailing list.

# Command used for sending your mails.
# By default, svkmail uses "sendmail".
# If you want to use other command,
# the command must be sendmail-compatible.
# A recommended choice is msmtp.
sendmail="msmtp -a gmail -t"

# Command used for signing your mails.
# A recommended choice is GnuPG2
sign="gpg2 --clearsign -u your_key_id"

For more information about msmtp and gpg2, see MSMTP Quick Start and GnuPG2 Quick Start.

OK! Everything is ready now. Just say "hooray" and then you could start working.

Working On Your Linux Box

During your tenure as a developer on this project, a typical routine is "syncing", "merging", "updating", "modifying", "committing", "code reviewing" and "submitting".


Each time before you start work, you should synchronize the local repository with the latest status of the SVN repository. Simply type:

svk sync /ggl/mirror/

This command will download the latest changes made by other developers. If nothing is new since the last sync, you can skip the "merging" step. Otherwise you will need to merge the changes from your local mirror to your local branch.


This command will merge the changes from your local mirror to your local branch:

svk smerge /ggl/mirror/ /ggl/local/

But in most cases, we don't want the synchronize the entire local repository with the whole mirror repository which including all tags and branches, so maybe you only want to synchronize a subset of the branches:

svk smerge /ggl/mirror/trunk/ /ggl/local/trunk/
svk smerge /ggl/mirror/wiki/ /ggl/local/wiki/


Every changes is already on your local branch. Now just updating the latest changes to your working directory:

svk up


Now feel free to modify your sources. These commands may be useful during your creative work:

svk add filename
svk rm filename
svk revert filename
svk status
svk diff


When you finish coding, you can commit your code into your local working branch using this command in preparation for a code review:

svk commit

A text editor will be launched to ask you for the commit log. Be sure to note the names of the code reviewers on the commit log, using this format:

Reviewer: reviewer@somehost


Reviewers: reviewer1@somehost1, reviewer2@somehost2

Committing to the local working branch will not affect the remote SVN repository at all, so feel free to commit any changes to your local working branch. No one else will be disturbed by you.

Code Reviewing

After committing to your local working branch, you could now send out a code-review request to the other developers. Although the SVN server allows directly committing your changes, committing to the SVN server without a code-review request is strictly prohibited in our group. Any member doing so may be kicked out from the committer list. Use this command to generate a code-review request:

svkmail -m reviewer@somehost

If you've committed many changes to your local working branch, you can send out a single code-review request containing all of those changes. For example, this command sends out a review request from local revision 105 to 108:

svkmail -m reviewer@somehost -r 105:108


If other developers replied to your request and gave positive comments to your changes, you can then submit the changes to the SVN repository. There are three ways to submit changes.


Type this command:

svk smerge /ggl/local/trunk/ /ggl/mirror/trunk/

This command merges all changes in local branch to the local mirror. And every change to the local mirror will be applied to the SVN repository automatically. A text editor will be launched asking you for the commit log. Be sure to note the names of the code reviewers on the commit log.


If you have committed multiple changes to your local branch and want these changes be committed to the SVN repository separately, instead of merging all the changes into one change list, you can use this command:

svk smerge -I /ggl/local/trunk/ /ggl/mirror/trunk/

This command will merge your changes incrementally, using your previous commit logs and will not prompt for any additional logs.


The best way to commit code to SVN is to manually commit changes. This can be done in 5 steps:

First, switch to the local mirror:

svk switch /ggl/mirror/trunk/

Then merge the changes from the local branch:

svk merge /ggl/local/trunk/ -r M:N .

Now you can try compiling the code and running the unit test to ensure that the code you committed is OK. Then submit your changes:

svk ci

As we are already working on the local mirror, every change to it will be applied to the SVN server, too. So we've already updated the SVN repository on server side.

Then we should merge the changes from the mirror to the local branch:

svk smerge /ggl/mirror/trunk/ /ggl/local/trunk/

At last, switch back to the local branch:

svk switch /ggl/local/trunk/


Q: I ran svk ci in preparation for a code review, but another developer checked in his code. Now in order to send out a new up-to-date review, my change list will include the changes made by the other developer. How do I send out a clean code review in this case?

A: It's possible to send out a code review request without merging the remote changes in order to avoid this problem. But the out-of-dated patch will certainly confuse your reviewers. So we strongly suggest that you merge before you send out a code review request, leaving the troubles to yourself only. After merging the changes, you must use this command to send out the code review request:

svkmail -m reviewer@host -r M:N -genpatch "svk diff /ggl/mirror/trunk/ /ggl/local/trunk/"

Note: You'll not be able to do incrementally committing in this situation. Therefore try to avoid this problem altogether by making your changes small, reducing the number of pending changes, and submitting more often.

If you have any questions about SVK, please contact us via the mailing list.

Comment by, Nov 12, 2008

One finding and one question.

One can't install svk on Ubuntu 8.10 due to a unresolved dependency:
Work-around seems to be install package libfile-temp-perl manually:

Question is that 'Mirroring' step in this document asks me for user name and password. So does that mean only committer can mirror ggl trunk?

Comment by project member, Nov 12, 2008

to jujiangw: It makes no sense for non-committers to mirror ggl svn repository. However if you really want to mirror it, you can change the url to http://...

Comment by, Nov 12, 2008

I see. Thanks, James.

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