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Subversion Offline Solution (SOS)

Project description

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Important notice from the author

I’ve been developing this software over the course of the last 4 months in my spare time, and until version 1.4 I’ve put probably around 200 working hours into it, a rough equivalent of 8.500€ in development costs that I have granted to the open source community. Lately, this project has taken too much time away from my family and other significant themes in my life. I cannot continue at the current pace, unless getting support in form of a lively SOS community, or by getting funding for the effort that I put into SOS. Since SOS is already quite mature, so I will reduce my efforts and contribute only little enhancements and bug fixes according to my own pace and priorities, unless someone comes with contributions, or feature requests and means to support them. As a user of open source software I hope you can relate to this decision and support SOS in any way suiting you, to make it our number one personal productivity tool!

List of Abbreviations and Definitions

  • MPL: *Mozilla Public License*
  • PyPI: *Python Package Index*
  • SCM: Source Control Management
  • SOS: Subversion Offline Solution
  • SVN: Apache Subversion
  • VCS: Version Control System
  • Filename: Fixed term for file names used throughout SOS and this documentation
  • File pattern: A filename or glob, allowing to place special characters like *?[!] into file names to mark ellipses
  • File tree: A directory structure on the user’s file system at a certain point in time. It’s not exactly the same as a checkout or working copy, but largely comparable
  • Revision: An archived (or versioned, differential) set of file modifications, also known as changeset or patch


If you (love, or simply have to) work with the SVN VCS, but need (or lack) the flexibility of committing and branching files offline (without a permanent network connection) similar to how Git is able to, SOS is your straight-forward and super simple command-line SCM solution:

SOS allows performing offline operations a) as a drop-in replacement for svn and other VCS commands, b) as an offline extension of those VCSs that either don’t support offline branching and committing or are too complex, and c) as a standalone VCS. You may run sos offline not only inside a SVN checkout, but in any (and also multiple, even nested) folders of your file system, even outside of VCS repository checkouts/clones.

SOS thus augments SVN with offline operation and serves the same need as SVK, RCS, CVS, Git, gitless, monotone, darcs, Bazaar, Mercurial, and Fossil.

As an additional practical benefit, the sos command will double as the command line interface of any popular VCS and will execute any svn, git, etc. command by sos <command> [<arguments-and-options>], e.g. sos commit -m "Message" instead of svn commit -m "Message" or git commit -m "Message". Once you executed sos offline, however, all commands are interpreted by the SOS tool instead, until leaving the offline mode via sos online (with the exception of sos config, cf. details below).

Flexible VCS Modes

SOS supports three different file handling models that you may use to your liking, thus being able to mimick different traditional VCSs, plus a new mode for super quick and easy version management (the default). - Simple mode: All files are automatically versioned and tracked. Drawback: Will pickup any little modification for any file, binary or not - Tracking mode: Only files that match certain file patterns are respected during commit, update and branch (just like in SVN, gitless, and Fossil), requiring users to specifically add or remove files per branch. Drawback: Need to declare files to track for every offline repository - Picky mode: Each operation needs the explicit declaration of file patterns for versioning (like Git does). Drawback: Need to stage files for every single commit

Unique Features of SOS

  • Initializes repositories by default with the simple mode, which makes effortless versioning a piece of cake
  • In the optional tracking mode, files are tracked via file patterns instead of pure filenames or paths (in a manner comparable to how SVN ignores files)
  • Command line replacement for traditional VCS that transparently pipes commands to them
  • Straightforward and simplified semantics for common VCS operations (branch, commit, integrate changes)


  • Designed for use by single user, network synchronization is a non-goal. Don’t attempt to use SOS in a shared location, concurrent access to the repository may corrupt your data, as there is currently no locking in place (could be augmented, but it’s a non-goal too)
  • Has a small user base as of now, therefore no reliable reports of compatibility and operational capability except for the automatic unit tests run on Travis CI and AppVeyor


  • SOS runs on any Python 3.4 distribution or higher, including some versions of PyPy. Python 2 is not supported anymore due to library issues, although SOS’s programming language Coconut is generally able to transpile to valid Python 2 source code. Use pip install sos-vcs[backport] to attemüt running SOS on Python 3.3 or earlier
  • SOS is compatible with above mentioned traditional VCSs: SVN, Git, gitless, Bazaar, Mercurial and Fossil
  • Filename encoding and console encoding: Full roundtrip support (on Windows) started only with Python 3.6.4 and has not been tested nor confirmed yet for SOS

Latest Changes

  • version 1.5 (not released yet):

  • Version 1.4 release on 2018-02-17:

    • Bug 167 Accidentally crawling file tree and all revisions on sos status
    • Bug 190 Changes not computed in sos online
    • Enhancement 75 Better progress indicators during sos commit and other operations
    • Enhancement 133 Now showing entire repository compression advantage after sos offline and sos commit
    • Enhancement 171 Display target end-of-line type in sos diff
    • Enhancement 179, 180 SOS now creates backups from metadata files and dump files automatically
    • Enhancement 186 Option to ignore leading and trailing white space in sos diff (not useful for sos update, though)
    • Enhancement 187 By default, text in sos diff is cut at the end of the (right-hand) terminal border, with the option switch --wrap to retain the old behaviour (wrapping text around)
    • Enhancement 191 Allow to make the behavior of the sos status command configurable via useChangesCommand=yes to either show file tree status (the new default, mirroring the behaviour of SVN and Git), or display the repository and branches status (while having sos changes for file tree status instead, especially for people coming from Fossil)
    • Enhancement 192 Reduced lines of code by relying on latest enhancements in Coconut (e.g. typing imports), plus removing obsolete code
    • Feature 181 Introduces experimental code for very fast branching. Use sos branch [<name> [<message>]] --last --fast for instant branching that uses only a reference to the parent branch instead of copying each file. This feature goes a step into the direction of Git and introduces complexity into the code base, but was seen as essential to not stand in the way of the developer. The burden of copying revisions to dependant branches is delayed to when the parent branch is destroyed, assuming that destroying a branch is an action much less often used than branching
    • Feature 182 Introduces automatic upgrade for metadata format, making manual migration steps of previous and any future releases obsolete
    • Feature 183 SOS now recognizes and displays renames and file moves inside the repository. The underlying add/remove file behaviour is unchanged, but the user sees a moved notification for sos changes and sos commit
    • Downloads so far: 2850
  • Version 1.3 release on 2018-02-10:

    • Enhancement 152, 162 PEP528/529 compatibility: Now working with any console encoding and file system encoding on Windows (at least with Python 3.6+)

    • Enhancement 163 Rewrite of changeset handling to avoid problems when re-adding files deleted in previous revision

    • Enhancement 164 Little improvement for sos config

    • Enhancement 165 Little improvement for sos config add

    • Enhancement 168 Don’t stop switching if changes are same as live modifications

    • Feature 64 Added blacklisting for tracking patterns (e.g. to except single files or reduce scope of globs). For manual migration from older repositories: Add a , [] at the end of each branch info inside .sos/.meta, e.g. modify

      [0, 1518275599353, "trunk", true, []]


      [0, 1518275599353, "trunk", true, [], []] (note the additional trailing , [])

    • Downloads: 2550

  • Version 1.2 released on 2018-02-04:

  • Version 1.1 released on 2017-12-30:

    • Bug 90 Removed directories weren’t picked up
    • Bug 93 Picky mode lists any file as added
    • Enhancement 63 Show more change details in log and status, and also ls (in #101)
    • Enhancement 86 Renamed command for branch removal to destroy
    • Feature 8 Added functionality to rename tracking patterns and move files accordingly
    • Feature 61 Added option to only consider or exclude certain file patterns for relevant operations using --only and --except. Note: These have to be already tracked file patterns, currently, see #99 and #100
    • Feature 80 Added functionality to use tags
    • QA 79 Added AppVeyor automated testing
    • QA 94 More test coverage
    • Many little fixes and improvements
    • Downloads: 5200
  • Version 1.0 released on 2017-12-14:

    • First release with basic functionality
    • Lots of test cases, good test coverage
    • System integration and packaging
    • Library integration and testing
    • VCS integration
    • Downloads: 4600

Comparison with Traditional VCSs

While completing version 1.0 of SOS after almost two months of development, I incidentally discovered an interesting article by Gregory Szorc that discusses central weaknesses in the design of popular VCSs, with a focus on Git. Many of his arguments I have intuitively felt to be true as well and were the reason for the development of SOS: mainly the reduction of barriers between the developer’s typical workflow and the VCS, which is most often used as a structured tool for “type and save in increments”, while advanced features of Git are just very difficult to remember and get done right.

  • While Git is basically a large key-value store with a thin access interface on top, SOS keeps a very clear (folder) structure of branches, revisions and files
  • Compared to SVN, SOS’s file store is much simpler and doesn’t require an integrated database, and recovery is manually possible with little effort

Here is a comparison between SOS and traditional VCS’s commands: - branch creates a branch from the current file tree, but also switches to it immediately. There is no requirement to name branches, removing all barriers - SOS allows to branch from the latest committed revision via sos branch [<name>] --last; this automatically applies when in tracking and picky mode. In consequence any changes performed since last commit will automatically be considered as a change for the next commit on the branch unless --stay was added as well to not switch to the new branch - commit creates a numbered revision from the current file tree, similar to how SVN does, but revision numbers are only unique per branch, as they aren’t stored in a global namespace. The commit message is strictly optional on purpose (as sos commit serves largely as a CTRL+S replacement) - The first revision (created during execution of sos offline or sos branch) always has the number 0 - Each sos commit increments the revision number by one; revisions are referenced by this numeric index, the revision’s optional commit message if given, or a tag - Tagging a commit means that the commit message serves as a tag name and is assured to be unique. Referring to a revision by its tag name can be used instead of numeric revision index, but works not only for tagged revisions and finds the first matching revision with a matching commit message - You may use negative revision indexes, just like Python does. -1 refers to the latest revision, -2 to the second-latest - You may specify a revision of the current branch by /<revision>, while specifying the latest revision of another branch by <branch>/ (note the position of the slash) - delete destroys and removes a branch. It’s a command, not an option flag as in git branch -d <name> for usability’s sake - add and rm add and remove tracking patterns, if the repository was created in tracking or picky mode. Patterns are never recursively applied, but always apply for a specific file tree path. They may contain, however, globs in their filename part, which makes it different from any other VCS in existence - move renames a file tracking pattern and all matching files accordingly; only useful in tracking or picky mode. It supports reordering of literal substrings, but no reordering of glob markers (*, ? etc.), and of adjacent glob markers. Use --soft to avoid files actually being renamed in the file tree. Warning: the --force option flag will be considered for several consecutive, potentially dangerous operations - switch works like checkout in Git for a revision of another branch (or of the current), or update to latest or a specific revision in SVN. Please note that switching to a different revision will in no way fix or remember that revision. The file tree will always be compared to the branch’s latest commit for change detection - update works a bit like pull and merge in Git or update in SVN and replays the specified other (or “remote“‘s) branch’s and/or revision’s changes into the file tree. There are plenty of options to configure what changes are actually integrated, plus interactive integration. This command will not switch the current branch like switch does. Note, that this is not a real 3-way merge, or merge at all, just a more flexible way to insert and remove text output from diff.

When differing contents are to be merged, there is always a potential for conflict; not all changes can be merged automatically with confidence. SOS takes a simplistic and pragmatic approach and largely follows a simple diff algorithm to detect and highlight changes. Insertions and deletions are noted, and modifications are partially detected and marked as such. There are different layers of changes that SOS is able to work on:
- File addition or removal in the file tree, e.g. when updating from another branch and/or revision or switching to them, can be controlled by `--add`, `--rm` and `--ask`, which applies only for conflicts. Default is to replay both
- Line insertion or deletion inside a file, e.g. when merging file modifications during update, via `--add-lines`, `--rm-lines`, `--ask-lines`. Default is replay both
- Character insertion or deletion on a single text line being mergedf, e.g. when non-conflicting intra-line differences are detected, via `--add-chars`, `--rm-chars`, `--ask-chars`. Default is to replay both
- Updating state from another branch in the `--track` or `--picky` mode will always combine (build the union of) all tracked file patterns. To revert this, use the `switch --meta` command to pull back in another branch's and/or revision's tracking patterns to the currently active branch (may require to switch first to the other side). There is currently no check, if the pulled in tracking patterns are supersets or subsets of the onces being already there
- There may be, however, blocks of text lines that seem inserted/deleted but may have actually just been moved inside the file. TODO: SOS attempts to detect clear cases of moved blocks and silently accepts them no matter what. TODO: implement and introduce option flag to avoid this behavior

Working in Track and Picky Modes

Use the commands sos add <pattern> or sos rm <pattern> to add or remove file patterns. These patterns always refer to a specific (relative) file paths and may contain globbing characters ?*[!] only in the filename part of the path.

Configuration Options

These options can be set or unset by the user and apply either globally for all offline operations the user performs from that moment on, or locally to one repository only (using the --local option flag). Some of these options can be defined on a per-repository basis already during offline repository creation (e.g. sos offline --track --strict --compress), others can only be set in a persistant fashion (e.g. sos config set texttype "*.xsd"), or after repository creation (e.g. sos config set texttype "*.xsd;*.xml" --local).

Configuration Commands

  • sos config set sets a boolean flag, a string, or an initial list (semicolon-separated)
  • sos config unset removes a boolean flag, a string, or an entire list
  • sos config add adds one or more (semicolon-separated) string entry/entries to a list, and creates it if necessary
  • sos config rm removes a string entry from a list. Must be typed exactly as the entry to remove. To remove the list, use sos unset <key>
  • sos config show lists all defined configuration settings, including storage location/type (global, local, default)
  • sos config show <parameter> show only one configuration item
  • sos config show flags|texts|lists show supported settings per type

User Configuration and Defaults

SOS uses the `configr <>`__ library to manage per-user global defaults, e.g. for the --strict and --track flags that the offline command takes, but also for often-used file and folder exclusion patterns. By means of the sos config set <key> <value> command, you can set these flags with values like 1, no, on, false, enable or disabled.

Available Configuration Settings

  • strict: Flag for always performing full file comparsion, not relying on modification timestamp only; file size is always checked in both modes. Default: False
  • track: Flag for always going offline in tracking mode (SVN-style). Default: False
  • picky: Flag for always going offline in picky mode (Git-style). Default: False
  • compress: Flag for compressing versioned artifacts. Default: False
  • useChangesCommand: Flag for making sos status into sos status --repo and using sos changes instead of sos status to more closely copy Fossil’s behaviour
  • useUnicodeFont: Flag to use more fancy symbols, granted the console font supports them
  • defaultbranch: Name of the initial branch created when going offline. Default: Dynamic per type of VCS in current working directory (e.g. master for Git, trunk for SVN, no name for Fossil)
  • texttype: List of file patterns that should be recognized as text files that can be merged through textual diff, in addition to what Python’s mimetypes library will detect as a text/... mime. Example: *.bak could be a text file on your system, so add it to the texttype configuration, either globally (default) or locally (using --local). Default: Empty list
  • bintype: List of file patterns that should be recognized as binary files which cannot be merged textually, overriding potential matches in texttype. Default: Empty list
  • ignores: List of filename patterns (without folder path) to ignore during repository operations. Any match from the corresponding white list will negate any hit for ignores. Default: See source code, e.g. ["*.bak", "*.py[cdo]]"
  • ignoresWhitelist: List of filename patterns to be consider even if matched by an entry in the ignores list. Default: Empty list
  • ignoreDirs: As ignores, but for folder names
  • ignoreDirsWhitelist: As ignoresWhitelist, but for folder names

Noteworthy Details

  • SOS doesn’t store branching point information (or references); each branch stands alone and has no relation whatsoever to other branches or certain revisions thereof, except incidentally its initial file contents
  • File tracking patterns are stored per branch, but not versioned with commits (!). This means that the “what to track” metadata is not part of the changesets. This is a simplification stemming from the main idea that revisions form a linear order of safepoints, and users rarely go back to older revisions
  • sos update will not warn if local changes are present! This is a noteworthy exception to the failsafe approach taken for most other commands


  • Diff between any two revisions: Switch to the revision you want to compare against, then perform a diff with the other revision as argument
  • Ignore whitespaces during diff: Add the option --iw or --ignore-whitespace

Hints and Tipps

  • To migrate an offline repository, either use the sos dump <targetname> command, or simple move the .sos folder into an (empty) target folder, and run sos switch trunk --force (or use whatever branch name you’re wanting to recreate). For compressed offline repositories, you may simply tar all files, otherwise you may want to create an compressed archive for transferring the .sos folder
  • To save space when going offline, use the option sos offline --compress: It may increase commit times by a larger factor (e.g. 10x), but will also reduce the amount of storage needed to version files. To enable this option for all offline repositories, use sos config set compress on
  • When specifying file patterns including glob markers on the command line, make sure you quote them correctly. On Linux (bash, sh, zsh), but also recommended on Windows, put your patterns into quotes ("), otherwise the shell will replace file patterns by the list of any matching filenames instead of forwarding the pattern literally to SOS
  • Many commands can be shortened to three, two or even one initial letters, e.g. sos st will run sos status, just like SVN does (but sadly not Git). Using SOS as a proxy to other VCS requires you to specify the form required by those, e.g. sos st works for SVN, but not for Git (sos status, however, would work)
  • It might in some cases be a good idea to go offline one folder higher up in the file tree than your base working folder to care for potential deletions, moves, or renames
  • The dirty flag is only relevant in tracking and picky mode (?) TODO investigate - is this true, and if yes, why
  • Branching larger amounts of binary files may be expensive as all files are copied and/or compressed during sos offline. A workaround is to sos offline only in the folders that are relevant for a specific task

Development and Contribution

See for further information.

Ideas for future developments: - Issue 158 Remote metadata folder would allow separating the repository from the checkout, and - in combination with a locking library like fasteners could even be used as a multi-user repository. Estimated development effort is 3+3 hours.

Release Management

  • Increase version number in
  • Run python3 clean build test to update the PyPI version number, compile and test the code, and package it into an archive. If you need evelated rights to do so, use sudo -E python....
  • Run git add, git commit and git push and let Travis CI and AppVeyor run the tests against different target platforms. If there were no problems, continue:
  • Don’t forget to tag releases
  • Run python3 sdist
  • Run twine upload dist/*.tar.gz to upload the previously created distribution archive to PyPI.

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