Thursday, September 06, 2012

Why pay for an online SVN Repository?

This is my first non programming/decade related post in a long time, but before I start I would like to state that I am making no comment about the merits of SVN over Git and other source control systems. I simply prefer SVN and its been my source control of choice for many years. I will also try and make this post not sound like a rant.

Until recently the decade source has existed in a free repository on unfuddle. Their free plan offers 512MB, 1 project, 2 collaborators etc.... Now that decade spans a desktop version (for Windows, Mac and Linux), a mobile version for IOS and Android and is spawning some mobile games the limitations of space and allowed projects is stifling development. My instinct was to pay for one of the services which these online repositories offer. The average cost on an online repository which has 3gb space and allows 10 projects and up to 5 collaborators is about $15 a month. Not a huge amount of money but it got me thinking why it costs so much.

Dropbox offers users 3gb of backed up online storage for free. Granted, the SVN providers need to have SVN running on their servers, but this is free software, right? Overhead of admin for SVN? Perhaps a little cost. The fact that providing SVN services is a niche market compared to dropbox, which anyone can use for any media, can also add a little cost but $180 a year versus $0?

Why limit the number of projects that I can have? If I'm paying $15 a month for 3gb of space, shouldn't I be allowed to have as many projects as I want so long as I stay under my storage limit? The only answer I can find is that its business. They charge simply because they can.

I use Cornerstone on my Mac as an SVN client. (At $65 this is an expensive piece of software compared to the many free SVN clients out there, but since the cost/benefit to me outweighs the price its worth it. I hope this fact will go some way to dispel any opinion that I'm simply too mean to pay the $15 a month. I simply don't think the service provided warrants that cost compared to other generic online backup services). In Cornerstone, with a few clicks of the mouse, I created a SVN repository on my Dropbox drive. Since the data is on dropbox it is immediately backed up to the cloud. Since Dropbox don't care what I put in my account I can have as many projects as I wish. If I used a dropbox account which was specifically for the project and not for personal use, I could supply the details to others and have as many collaborators as needed.

The only issue I can see with this is that there is no level of indirection between me and the data. Deleting data from an online repository through a web portal would require some very deliberate steps and is therefore unlikely to occur by accident. Deleting files from what appears to be a disk on your local machine is very easy and could happen in error, but with this in mind I think any issues can be easily prevented.

As many projects as your allocated storage will allow, no limit on the number of collaborators and for much cheaper than $180 a year, potentially $0?  Simply use Dropbox.


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