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Project highlights: A modern, light-weight, self-contained, web-based toolset for Subversion repository browsing and administration.  A live system can be seen in action here.

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Summary A set of XSLT and CGIs to provide web access to Subversion
Categories scm, deployment
License GNU General Public License
Owner(s) mksoft

Insurrection Web Tools for Subversion

This project got started because of a need for a simple, self-contained, production SVN server with some level of administration and repository browsing via the web.  After being unsatisfied with various existing solutions and wanting to have a reasonable and self-contained web access solution for Subversion, Insurrection was born.

Some of the design goals for this project:

  • Must work without the need to install anything on the host OS.  This means that all of the functionality of this system must work in a user process with a locally built Apache and Subversion code base.  We do assume some basic features of a "unix" like operating environment, such as having a basic Perl installation.
  • Make use of modern browser technology to reduce server side overhead and bandwidth usage.  This means using client-side XSLT transforms to embellish XML output into a presentable form.  This means heavy use of XSLT, CSS, and JavaScript where needed to product a better result.  No aiming at the lowest possible version.
  • Try not to use any browser or platform specific extensions if at all possible.  This means that none of the JavaScript will do browser detection.  There is one case were we have to check for a Microsoft-ism due to the lack of a common standard but the check is written such that if IE does start supporting the standard it will automatically used that form.  The minimum browser support is for Firefox 1.0, Mozilla 1.7.x, and IE 6 with IE 5+, Opera, and Safari to be supported where reasonable.  There is some support for non-XSLT browsers such as Opera, KHTML, and older Safari browsers. (See these browser functionality tests that I have put together for details on client side requirements.)
  • To provide a way to administrate and support multiple repositories on the same server.  Currently the code does not support a single repository only format since it assumes a multi-repository structure.  Support for single repository configuration will be looked at if it does not adversely impact the support for multiple repositories.
  • All URLs will be the subversion repository URLs with operational actions defined in the CGI parameters.  Currently this is implemented with the Apache mod_rewrite feature.
  • To make sure that we don't use any more bad puns as we have used our allowance in the naming of this project.
  • ...more to come...

Project Status

The current code is in active use on a number non-public Subversion servers.  This does not mean that the project is complete but it is relatively stable.  Many things have not been cleaned up or as fully supported as I would like.  There is also a lack of clean documentation as to how to install the code.  This is because, so far, it has always been installed by the same person who wrote it.

I have put up a live server at http://svn.code-host.net/ that has the Insurrection code on it so you can see it in action.  I have also made some "Browser Shots" that show a small bit of what using Insurrection is like.  (Click to view screen shots)

I have put together some simple tests of the client-side/browser capabilities that the Insurrection system needs.  You can try these tests at http://svn.code-host.net/browser-tests/ and the source for these tests are in the source repository.

Note:  Currently there is no official release but the code is in revision control on my svn.code-host.net system.  (This is hosted on a system running Insurrection)  [note: the source at tigris is in CVS and is an export of the source from the main revision control server I have, which is Subversion and runs these exact same tools.]

The goal of this set of tools is to become a reasonably complete Subversion repository browsing system plus a simple administration system for repository access controls.

Why reinvent the wheel?

While, in some ways I believe that I have built something that already exists, I have done so mainly due to direct needs or issues with what already exists.  See some of the design goals above...

The main reason was the need for running within a standard Linux server install without the need for any root access.  This makes this a clean install onto already supported NOC servers within a company without special needs or configuration.  The current setups I have installed allows for the migration of the whole system to another machine by just moving the user account and directories.  No special backup procedures, system installs, or extra patching for securty or administration.  (For example, my setup runs on a plain-vanilla RedHat AS2.1 install)

One of the key components that made this possible is the Subversion Filesystem database backend support.  In my testing of the FSFS repositories, I have found that they are actually more reliable than the BDB ones.  (Less operator intervention in the case of a lights-out environment.)


This is one of the places where there needs to be a lot more work.  However, the basic trick is to edit and set your system specific parameters in the insurrection.xml, insurrection.pl, and insurrection.js files.  I know, three places... but they are used independantly by different technologies so I am not sure what the best way to consolidate all of this is.  Maybe an install script of some sort.

One of the things I tend to do is to have a repository just for the Subversion web site itself.  With a little bit of post-commit magic, this lets me commit new web site files/code/etc. and have it be on the Subversion server without the need to SSH/Login onto the server itself.  This also provides for a good way of tracking changes to the site, including changes to the administration files (such as the password file and the access rights file).

More details to follow as I get a chance to write them up...

Insurrection in operation

Go to http://svn.code-host.net/ to use Insurrection in action.  svn.code-host.net is a service that I am setting up for people who want a reliable, high-quality, Subversion service.  The Insurrection project main code repository lives on this server.

Related resources

  • ViewCVS has support for Subversion in it now.  It is a much more mature project than Insurrection is but it does have some larger install requirements and does not make full use of modern browser technology.
  • WebSVN is a newer project that also provides simular features to ViewCVS and Insurrection.
  • Chora is a GNU Horde project that provides a rich set of features at the cost of installing a large set of support tools to make it work.

Insurrection Logo

Insurrection Web Tools for Subversion

A new logo for Insurrection. Special thanks to Dan Case from Carroll Collage for this one. It is so much better than the thing I had drawn.

If someone comes up with a better logo that what I have done, please feel free to share it.  The Insurrection system is designed to allow for others to adjust its looks and branding, specifically such that the server can fit cleanly into a corporate environment.  This means that whatever logo is used, it will be one that can easily be replaced.  There is no need for this project to scream about itself in every installed system.