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Piston is a utility that eases vendor branch management. This is similar to <tt>svn:externals</tt>, except you have a local copy of the files, which you can modify at will. As long as the changes are mergeable, you should have no problems. This tool has a similar purpose than svnmerge.py which you can find in the contrib/client-side folder of the main Subversion repository at http://svn.collab.net/repos/svn/trunk/contrib/client-side/svnmerge.py. The main difference is that Piston is designed to work with remote repositories. Another tool you might want to look at, SVK, which you can find at http://svk.elixus.org/. From Wikipedia's Piston page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piston): In general, a piston is a sliding plug that fits closely inside the bore of a cylinder. Its purpose is either to change the volume enclosed by the cylinder, or to exert a force on a fluid inside the cylinder. For this utility, I retain the second meaning, "to exert a force on a fluid inside the cylinder." Piston forces the content of a remote repository location back into our own. = Notes on 2.0 In the 1.0 era, Piston was exclusively geared towards Subversion repositories. In early 2008, Git gained a lot of popularity among Ruby and Rails coders. Piston was rewritten during that period to allow many repositories and working copies to be used together. The documentation still refers to Subversion throughout, but 2.0 allows any repository to be used with any working copy. = Installation Nothing could be simpler: $ gem install piston = Usage First, you need to import the remote repository location: $ piston import http://dev.rubyonrails.org/svn/rails/trunk vendor/rails Exported r4720 from 'http://dev.rubyonrails.org/svn/rails/trunk' to 'vendor/rails' $ svn commit -m "Importing local copy of Rails" When you want to get the latest changes from the remote repository location: $ piston update vendor/rails Updated 'vendor/rails' to r4720. $ svn commit -m "Updates vendor/rails to the latest revision" You can prevent a local Piston-managed folder from updating by using the +lock+ subcommand: $ piston lock vendor/rails 'vendor/rails' locked at r4720. When you want to update again, you unlock: $ piston unlock vendor/rails 'vendor/rails' unlocked. If the branch you are following moves, you should use the switch subcommand: $ piston import http://dev.rubyonrails.org/svn/rails/branches/1-2-pre-release vendor/rails $ svn commit vendor/rails # Vendor branch is renamed, let's follow it $ piston switch http://dev.rubyonrails.org/svn/rails/branches/1-2-stable vendor/rails = Contributions == Bash Shell Completion Script Michael Schuerig contributed a Bash shell completion script. You should copy +contrib/piston+ from your gem repository to the appropriate folder. Michael said: I've put together a bash completion function for piston. On Debian, I just put it in /etc/bash_completion.d, alternatively, the contents can be copied to ~/.bash_completion. I don't know how things are organized on other Unix/Linux systems. = Caveats == Speed This tool is SLOW. The update process particularly so. I use a brute force approach. Subversion cannot merge from remote repositories, so instead I checkout the folder at the initial revision, and then run svn update and parse the results of that to determine what changes have occured. If a local copy of a file was changed, it's changes will be merged back in. If that introduces a conflict, Piston will not detect it. The commit will be rejected by Subversion anyway. == Copies / Renames Piston *does not* track copies. Since Subversion does renames in two phases (copy + delete), that is what Piston does. == Local Operations Only Piston only works if you have a working copy. It also never commits your working copy directly. You are responsible for reviewing the changes and applying any pending fixes. == Remote Repository UUID Piston caches the remote repository UUID, allowing it to know if the remote repos is still the same. Piston refuses to work against a different repository than the one we checked out from originally. = Subversion Properties Used * <tt>piston:uuid</tt>: The remote repository's UUID, which we always confirm before doing any operations. * <tt>piston:root</tt>: The repository root URL from which this Piston folder was exported from. * <tt>piston:remote-revision</tt>: The <tt>Last Changed Rev</tt> of the remote repository. * <tt>piston:local-revision</tt>: The <tt>Last Changed Rev</tt> of the Piston managed folder, to enable us to know if we need to do any merging. * <tt>piston:locked</tt>: The revision at which this folder is locked. If this property is set and non-blank, Piston will skip the folder with an appropriate message.