Subversion is a revision control system. A subersion repository, or
"repo", is a big data structure that stores many different snapshots
of your work in a space-efficient manner. Repositories are permenant
archives -- they are almost never deleted. You interact with the
repository by checking out versions of files or directories, modifying
them, and checking them back in again. Checking in is called
"committing". Each time you check something in, a permenant record of
that version is made, along with a time-stamp and a mandatory comment
from you. It will always be possible to recover any version that has
been checked in. Whole books have been written about svn but you will
need only the very simplest aspects of it.
Get a client
SVN is a client-server system -- a program running on your computer --
(called a client) interacts with a program running on the central
server that houses the repository (called the server). So the first
thing you will need is an svn client.
Linux: You already have svn.
Mac: It will download and install automatically the first time you try
to use it. Open a terminal window and type:
followed by 'return' or 'enter'. Answer yes to the prompt asking if
you want to download and install svn.
Windows: There is a very nice, free svn client that links into the
Windows graphical user interface called Tortoise svn. Download from
and install. Subsequent instructions for command line usage assume Mac
or Linux. Windows users can click around -- right clicking on a file
or folder name should bring up a menu with an submenu for Tortoise
svn. The menu items correspond pretty directly to the command line
Since I no longer have a Windows machine I can't give you more
detailed instructions than that -- you'll just have to click around.
Find the repository we set up for you
Surprise! You already have an svn repository. Repositories are
accessed via URLs and the URL for the top level of your repository is:
where "yourWustlKey" is replaced by your wustl key login ID (NOT your
password). After the underscore you should put the current semester -
e.g. in fall semester of 2016 you would use "fl16" after the
underscore. You can explore your repo using an ordinary web browser,
but when you first navigate to it you will be asked for your
credentials. Use your wustl key ID and in the password field enter
your wustl key password.
If you can't find a repository under your wustl key or your password
is not accepted, test the login and password by attempting to log in
to another WU site, such as the library.
Create a directory under which all your assignments will sit
You know how to create directory (i.e. folder) on your machine. Under
this there will be subdirectories for all the modules of the course
but you don't have to create those.
Check out your repository
unix or Mac: In unix or a MacOS terminal window (which is a
version of unix so we'll just write unix from now on) you move among
directories by using the command "cd". ("pwd" tells you which
directory you're currently in and "ls" lists the contents of the
directory, including subdirectories.) If you are new to unix you may
find the following quick reference page useful:
Windows:Navigate to the directory you created in the previous
step by using your usual, window-based mechanism of navigating folders.
Once you're in the right directory, for unix type:
svn checkout yourRepositoryURL
where yourRepositoryURL is replaced by the URL indicated above (and
which you put into your browser to see the repository). This will
create a subdirectory called cse587a_fl16
(with the part after the underscore indicating the current
semester). This directory is under version control, which means it's
linked to a directory of the same name in the repository.
Navigate to the subdirectory cse587a_fl16. Within that,
you should find subdirectories for each module: Mathematica, Probability, HMMs, etc.
Now navigate into the subdirectory for the current module, copy the
completed assignment file into it, and type
svn add myAssignment.nb
(unix) or right-click on the assignment file and select "add" from the
Tortoise subment (Windows). Unless instructed otherwise, you will
need to copy completed assignments into the module guide subdirectory
and svn add them for each assignment.
For each assignment
At any point before the start of class on the due date, you can commit
your final version to the svn repository. In fact you can also commit
partially completed versions along the way, to avoid losing work. For
grading, we will always pull out the first version committed after the
due date/time and check the commit timestamp to see whether the
assignment was committed on time.
To commit a version to the repository in a unix system, type
svn commit -m "A brief note describing the changes since the last commit."
Whenever you are in a version controlled directory this will commit
all changed files in that directory an any other directories below it,
recursively. You can also commit specific files or subdirectories
(however you cannot commit specific files or subdirectories if there
has a been no commit since the current directory was made).
Verify with the web browser
Since turning in homework on time is important, you will probably want
to check the repository in your web browser the first few times to
make sure you committed correctly.