For our June “Staff Pick” Project of the Month, we selected TortoiseSVN, a Subversion (SVN) client implemented as a windows shell extension. TortoiseSVN’s lead developer, Stefan Kueng, shared his thoughts about the project’s history, purpose, and direction.
SF: Tell me about the TortoiseSVN project please.
Kueng: TortoiseSVN is an easy to use Subversion client for Windows that integrates fully into the Windows Explorer. It provides the full features of Subversion and also has many additional features that are not part of the core of Subversion.
SF: What made you start this?
Kueng: I needed an easy-to-use version control client. At the time, the only free version control system was CVS but it was not good enough. Subversion was in the very early stages, with no official release yet and no UI clients available. That’s when I decided to create an UI client for it.
SF: Has the original vision been achieved?
Kueng: I think yes. The client provides all the features of Subversion.
SF: Who can benefit the most from your project?
Kueng: Developers mostly, but since it’s user-friendly it can also be used by other people who need to version their files (i.e. designers, writers, etc.).
SF: What core need does TortoiseSVN fulfill?
Kueng: It’s a highly accessible UI for Subversion.
SF: What’s the best way to get the most out of using TortoiseSVN?
Kueng: I recommend reading the docs. There’s a lot of information in there that cannot easily be figured out without actually reading them.
SF: What has your project team done to help build and nurture your community?
Kueng: React fast to bug reports, listen to requests, and try to implement them. We also provide good documentation.
SF: Have you all found that more frequent releases helps to build up your community of users?
Kueng: It depends on the users. A lot of our users work in big companies with complex demands; therefore, they don’t like frequent updates. That’s why we try to make stable releases only when necessary. But we provide nightly builds for users who need the latest features.
SF: What was the first big thing that happened for your project?
Kueng: Winning the SF community awards category “Best Tool or Utility for Developers” in 2007.
SF: What helped make that happen?
Kueng: A big enough user base and users that appreciate the work done on TortoiseSVN.
SF: What was the net result for that event?
Kueng: I think we got a few more users.
SF: What is the next big thing for TortoiseSVN?
Kueng: The next major release of Subversion is only a short time away, and with that release there will also be a new major release of TortoiseSVN with a lot new features.
SF: How long do you think that will take?
Kueng: I hope it will be done in a few weeks.
SF: Do you have the resources you need to make that happen?
Kueng: Yes, presently we’re mostly finished and are in the final stages.
SF: If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently for TortoiseSVN?
Kueng: It’s been evolving just the way it is comfortably.