Using Subversion

SVN, or Subversion, is a version control system similar to Git. It can be used via command line, or one of numerous GUI applications, such as Tortoise SVN, SmartSVN, and more. If you’re new to SVN, we recommend reviewing a comparison of SVN clients before deciding which is best for you.

This document is not a complete and robust explanation for using SVN, but more a quick primer to get started with plugins on WordPress.org. For more comprehensive documentation, see The SVN Book.

We’ll describe here some of the basics about using subversion as it relates to WordPress.org hosting.

For additional information, please see these documents:

Warning: SVN and the Plugin Directory are a release repository. Unlike Git, you shouldn’t commit every small change, as doing so can degrade performance. Please only push finished changes to your SVN repository.

Overview Overview

All your files will be centrally stored in the svn repository on our servers. From that repository, anyone can check out a copy of your plugin files onto their local machine, but, as a plugin author, only you have the authority to check in. That means you can make changes to the files, add new files, and delete files on your local machine and upload those changes back to the central server. It’s this process of checking in that updates both the files in the repository and also the information displayed in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory.

Subversion keeps track of all these changes so that you can go back and look at old versions or revisions later if you ever need to. In addition to remembering each individual revision, you can tell subversion to tag certain revisions of the repository for easy reference. Tags are great for labelling different releases of your plugin.

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Your Account Your Account

Your account for SVN will be the username (not the email) of the account you used when you submitted the plugin. Remember, capitalization matters, so if your username is JaneDoe, then you must use the capital J and D.

If you need to reset your password, go to https://login.wordpress.org/

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SVN Folders SVN Folders

There are four directories created by default in all SVN repositories.

/assets/
/branches/
/tags/
/trunk/

Trunk Trunk

The /trunk directory is where your plugin code should live. The trunk can be considered to be the latest and greatest code, however this is not necessarily the latest stable code. Trunk is for the development version. Hopefully, the code in trunk should always be working code, but it may be buggy from time to time because it’s not necessarily the “stable” version. For simple plugins, the trunk may be the only version of the code that exists, and that’s fine as well.

Even if you do your development work elsewhere (like a git repository), we recommend you keep the trunk folder up to date with your code for easy SVN compares.

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Tags Tags

The /tags directory is where you can put versions of the plugin at some specific point in time. Usually, you’ll use version numbers for the subdirectories here. So version 1.0 of the plugin would be in /tags/1.0, version 1.1 would be in /tags/1.1, and so forth. Again, not every plugin uses tags for versioning, however for those that do we strongly encourage the use of semantic software versioning.

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Branches Branches

The /branches directory is a place that you can use to store branches of the plugin. Perhaps versions that are in development, or test code, etc. The WordPress.org system does not use the branches directory for anything at all, it’s considered to be strictly for developers to use as they need it.

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Assets Assets

Assets is where your screenshots, header images, and plugin icons reside. It’s recommended but not required to put screenshot files in /assets

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Examples Examples

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Starting a New Plugin Starting a New Plugin

To start your plugin, you need to add the files you already have to your new SVN repository.

First create a local directory on your machine to house a copy of the SVN repository:

$ mkdir my-local-dir

Next, check out the pre-built repository

$ svn co https://plugins.svn.wordpress.org/your-plugin-name my-local-dir
> A	my-local-dir/trunk
> A	my-local-dir/branches
> A	my-local-dir/tags
> Checked out revision 11325.

In our example, subversion has added ( “A” for “add” ) all of the directories from the central SVN repository to your local copy.

To add your code, navigate into the my-local-dir folder: $ cd my-local-dir

Now you can add your files to the trunk/ directory of your local copy of the repository using copy/paste commands via command line, or dragging and dropping. Whatever you’re comfortable with.

Once your files are in the trunk folder, you must let subversion know you want to add those new files back into the central repository.

my-local-dir/$ svn add trunk/*
> A	trunk/my-plugin.php
> A	trunk/readme.txt

Warning: Do not put your main plugin file in a subfolder of trunk, like /trunk/my-plugin/my-plugin.php as that will break downloads. You may use subfolders for included files.

After you add all your files, you’ll check in the changes back to the central repository.

my-local-dir/$ svn ci -m 'Adding first version of my plugin'
> Adding trunk/my-plugin.php
> Adding trunk/readme.txt
> Transmitting file data .
> Committed revision 11326.

It’s required to include a commit message for all checkins.

If the commit fails because of ‘Access forbidden’ and you know you have commit access, add your username and password to the check-in command.

my-local-dir/$ svn ci -m 'Adding first version of my plugin' --username your_username --password your_password

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Editing Existing Files Editing Existing Files

Once your plugin is in the directory, you will likely need to edit the code at some point.

First go into your your local copy of the repository and make sure it’s up to date

$ cd my-local-dir/
my-local-dir/$ svn up
> At revision 11326.

In the above example, we’re all up to date. If there had been changes in the central repository, they would have been downloaded and merged into your local copy.

Now you can edit the file that needs changing using whatever editor you prefer.

If you’re not using an SVN GUI tool (like SubVersion or Coda) you can still check and see what’s different between your local copy and the central repository after you make changes. First we check the status of the local copy:

my-local-dir/$ svn stat
> M	trunk/my-plugin.php

This tells us that our local trunk/my-plugin.php is different from the copy we downloaded from the central repository ( “M” for “modified” ).

Let’s see what exactly has changed in that file, so we can check it over and make sure things look right.

my-local-dir/$ svn diff
> * What comes out is essentially the result of a
  * standard `diff -u` between your local copy and the
  * original copy you downloaded.

If it all looks good then it’s time to check in those changes to the central repository.

my-local-dir/$ svn ci -m "fancy new feature: now you can foo *and* bar at the same time"
> Sending	trunk/my-plugin.php
> Transmitting file data .
> Committed revision 11327.

All done!

If the commit fails because of ‘Access forbidden’ and you know you have commit access, add your username and password to the check-in command.

my-local-dir/$ svn ci -m 'Adding first version of my plugin' --username your_username --password your_password

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“Tagging” New Versions “Tagging” New Versions

Each time you make a formal release of your plugin, you should tag a copy of that release’s code. This lets your users easily grab the latest (or an older) version, it lets you keep track of changes more easily, and lets the WordPress.org Plugin Directory know what version of your plugin it should tell people to download.

First copy your code to a subdirectory in the tags/ directory. For the sake of the WordPress.org plugin browser, the new subdirectory should always look like a version number. 2.0.1.3 is good. Cool hotness tag is bad.

We want to use svn cp instead of the regular cp in order to take advantage of SVN’s features.

my-local-dir/$ svn cp trunk tags/2.0
> A tags/2.0

Now, as always, check in the changes.

my-local-dir/$ svn ci -m "tagging version 2.0"
> Adding         tags/2.0
> Adding         tags/2.0/my-plugin.php
> Adding         tags/2.0/readme.txt
> Committed revision 11328.

Alternately, you can use http URLs to copy, and save yourself bandwidth:

my-local-dir/$ svn cp https://plugins.svn.wordpress.org/your-plugin-name/trunk https://plugins.svn.wordpress.org/your-plugin-name/tags/2.0

Doing that will perform the copy remotely instead of copying everything locally and uploading. This can be beneficial if your plugin is larger.

After tagging a new version, remember to update the Stable Tag field in trunk/readme.txt!

Congratulations! You’ve updated your code!

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Notes Notes

Don’t put anything in SVN that you’re not willing and prepared to have deployed to everyone who uses your plugin. This includes vendor files, .gitignore and everything else.

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See Also See Also