OSX Isn’t Cutting It On This One

By on May 2, 2005

I’d like to give a hearty thumbs-up endorsement to the Mac as a productivity tool for developers, but I’ve found a chink in the ‘super-cool-and-usable’ armor, and no way to plug it: Subversion integration.

Yes, you can absolutely install subversion on a Mac and use it in a terminal. But I’ve yet to see a good GUI solution for subversion on the mac. Tortoise SVN for Windows tops my list as the easiest to use SVN interface available (and as a Linux user, it pains me to say that). I’ve found a couple of contenders, but none has been able to fill the bill:

  • SCPlugin is supposed to be a Finder plugin for SVN that works like Tortoise. However, when I installed it, it only downloaded about half of the repository, and didn’t work at all on another machine. The development team on this one appears to be AWOL, as there’s been no news for months.

  • SvnX is a stand-alone solution (no Finder integration) that looks pretty nice. Unfortunately, they don’t support authentication over http, and the software does a really bad job of telling you about that. It just times out waiting to connect to the repository.

Personally, I have no problems using terminal windows (I count it as a sad comment on the way I use the computer that my favorite thing about Expose is that you can watch several terminals at once). But most Mac users are accustomed to easy interfaces, and dropping them to the terminal is a little like opening the hood of a sports car to reveal a greasy, complicated engine. It works for us mechanics, but I’ll never be able to have an artist version photoshop files with it.

I eagerly await the comment that proves me wrong, or, barring that, hate mail.



  1. Uh… while it may be woeful – and even downright deplorable – that OS X lacks an Aqua-licious GUI providing reasonable access to subversion’s features without having to sully oneself with something so last-century as an ASCII-based interface, I think you’re seriously reaching for an angle here. While “most Mac users are accustomed to easy interfaces” is likely a true statement, it is also true that “most mac users” will likely think that “subversion” relates to espionage, not source code control… if they even know what source code control is. Furthermore, those who do know what source code control is are almost certainly the segment of the Mac user population MOST familiar with Terminal^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H a shell.

    If I were you, I’d stick to deplorable. Images of the Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke are overreaching methinks. But then, so is this response.

  2. Well, to be fair, I wasn’t so much try to sensationalize as I was trying to rant about a gap in the software stack that I’m running up against.

    While most users interested in version control probably DO know their way around a shell, expert users benefit from increased usability just as much as novices. I don’t need tortoiseSVN on a windows box either, but I sure do enjoy it.

    While I’m fine with Terminal, I’d like to start a designer with versioning files, and for someone used to clicking-and-dragging, bringing up a terminal to version files is a non-starter.

    I guess that Macs are getting to the point where there’s software available for any task, and it seems bizarre to me that noone has this nailed down yet. (I did see a couple of options posted here that I’ve yet to try, though. Thanks guys!)

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