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From Johan Corveleyn <>
Subject Re: SVN Externals 1.6 to 1.7 migration issue
Date Thu, 02 May 2013 09:00:54 GMT
On Thu, May 2, 2013 at 9:55 AM, Johan Corveleyn <> wrote:
> On Wed, May 1, 2013 at 5:01 PM, BRM <> wrote:
>> While I have not had the issue you are having, assuming the externals are in
>> the same repository I would highly recommend changing from using the syntax
>> you have to using the carrot (^) operator as it will save you many headaches
>> if your original svn location changes.
>> I.e. use:
> Indeed, that's far better than using an absolute url with scheme etc.
>> Also, I think the specific issue you are having (looking more closely at the
>> error message below) is that AFAIK, SVN does not let you import specific
>> files via externals - you have to do name spaces (aka folders) instead.
> That's not correct. File externals are supported (since 1.6 I think).
> They have a couple of specific problems though (a lot of which have
> been fixed in 1.7), because their implementation is entirely different
> from directory externals (file externals use the "switch" mechanism
> underneath, while dir externals are essentially an embedded checkout
> with some sugar on top).
> So, concerning to the problem of the OP:
>> From: "Hutchinson, Steve (UK)" <>
>> To: "" <>
>> Sent: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 7:01 AM
>> Subject: SVN Externals 1.6 to 1.7 migration issue
>> Hi,
>> We're been using 1.6 svn externals to manage a FW task.
>> In the repository we have a folder structure (which is pretty much defined
>> by the tools we are using) as below :-
>> FOLDER A -> file_a1.txt, file_a2.txt, file_a3.txt
>> FOLDER B -> file_b1.txt, file_b2.txt, file_b3.txt
>> Then using externals we link to those folder to create a WC PROJECT
>> structure that looks like :-
>> PROJECT -> FOLDER C ->  file_a1.txt, file_a2.txt, file_a3.txt AND
>> file_b1.txt
>> PROJECT -> FOLDER D ->  file_b1.txt, file_b2.txt, file_b3.txt
>> The externals on PROJECT FOLDER we used looked like (not actually using file
>> protocol, just created for example purposes) :-
>> file:///D:/FPGA/SVN_ISSUE/repo/FOLDER_B/file_b1.txt FOLDER_C/file_b1.txt
>> Worked ok with 1.6. We get the below error in 1.7 when updating of :-
>> External failed:    D:\FPGA\SVN_ISSUE\PROJECT\FOLDER_C\file_b1.txt
>> Error:         Cannot insert a file external defined on
>> Error:          working copy 'D:\FPGA\SVN_ISSUE\PROJECT\FOLDER_C'.
>> We have tried a few things (will not share all at this point due to info
>> overload), but wondered if there were any others that achieve something like
>> this with 1.7 or could offer some advise ?
> So essentially you are "injecting" a file external (file_b1.txt)
> inside a directory external (FOLDER_C (an external of FOLDER_A)).
> Hm, I remember some past discussions about edge cases like these
> (during the working copy rewrite of 1.7), but I don't remember exactly
> if this is actually a supported use case, or if it just happened to
> work by accident in 1.6.
> Perhaps someone else on this list can shed some light on this?

I had the following conversation with Philip Martin, on IRC (#svn-dev):

<@jcorvel> philipm, perhaps you know the answer to this externals
question (works in 1.6, but no longer in 1.7):
<philipm> A file external defined in one working copy but located
inside another working copy is not going to work in 1.7 or 1.8.
<philipm> The directory external is a separate working copy with its
own .svn/wc.db and that knows nothing about the external defined in a
different .svn/wc.db
<@jcorvel> Ok. Sooo, is this more in the "it worked by accident in
1.6, but was never supposed to be supported" category? Or could this
be considered a regression?
<@jcorvel>  I guess it doesn't matter ... semantics ...
<philipm> I don't suppose we ever supported it deliberately.
<@jcorvel> perhaps the more interesting question then is: is this at
all supportable within the externals design (of wc-ng)? Or would this
require "externals 2.0"?
<philipm> If we change directory externals to be more like switch then
the directory externals become part of a single working copy.
<@jcorvel> ack
<philipm> It may be relatively simple to do that. At present if you
try to "svn sw URL path" and path does not exist then the switch
<philipm> But it only fails because of a high level check on path, in
the past it was possible to switch a non-existant path.
<philipm> (In the past being during 1.7 development)
<philipm> If you switch a path that does not exist that looks very
much like an external (it is how file externals are implemented)
<philipm> One of the difficulties about externals is that the
specification is so relaxed that there are so many different cases.
<philipm> Almost any change is going to break some untested corner
cases, while perhaps fixing other corner cases.
<@jcorvel> philipm: so, realistically, this will probably not be fixed
very soon (as in: in a 1.8.x release). At the very least, it needs (a
lot of) work for coming up with a detailed spec etc ... to try and get
a grip on the edge cases etc ...
<philipm> I don't think it will be fixed in the near future. I don't
know what we are going to do about externals.

So I guess that answers it. It's not going to work in the near future.
Short term I guess you have to find a workaround by structuring things
differently. Longer term, someone needs to "champion" an effort to
rework externals (starting by driving a discussion about it's
specification etc ...). Volunteers welcome :-).


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