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[PATCH]: SVNDIFF version 1

From: Daniel Berlin <dberlin_at_dberlin.org>
Date: 2005-10-21 21:25:48 CEST

This email is long, so i sectionized it into "Introduction and
justification", "Changes I made", "Sparkly numbers", "Time Costs and
Backwards Compatibility"

Introduction and justification:

First, I should probably explain what svndiff is, and what it looks like
( which requires a bit of history), and why it needs improving:

Basically, when subversion started, it was decided to keep the internal
diff format stored on disk and transmitted over the wire
different from the actual diff instructions, which was a good idea.
In other words, the instructions that make up a binary diff are add and
How the binary diff is actually encoded, stored, and transmitted over
the wire is different than that, however.

Thus, if you look at the diffs as they are transmitted over the network,
or stored in the actual repository revisions, you are looking at
"svndiff" encoded data.

Back in the old days, when there was discussion about what to make this
format look like people were on a DAV kick, and the binary delta
algorithm vdelta was chosen as the delta algorithm.
At the same time, a format called "VCDIFF" was being standardized.
VCDIFF is now rfc 3284 (http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc3284.html).
VCDIFF defines a delta encoding format that is space efficient, but
reasonably easy to decode.
However, VCDIFF was seen as overkill for the internal diff format
It was assumed we would store it in some nicer thing, and if we wanted,
transform that to VCDIFF to be sent over the wire
This was the right decision, and for most things, VCDIFF *is* overkill
So some things were taken from VCDIFF, and the delta format we use,
called "SVNDIFF", was born.
It turns out, hoewver, that svndiff0 (the current version) is not so
efficient in some particular use cases that are not uncommon.
Prior to now, We relied on vdelta to compress these cases, instead of
relying on having good delta encoding, which in hindsight, was probably
not a good idea.
Vdelta did an okay job, but generated horrible to combine deltas in some
cases, which caused us to move to xdelta.
As noted in 1.2 release notes, we pay about a 15% size penalty for using
xdelta in the common case.

The not-so-uncommon case where our encoding is not efficientis when you
are repeatedly merging things to branches. and adding new data from
To understand why, you need to know a bit more about the internal
machinations of svndiff:

svndiff is split into sections:

There is an instruction section, which contains encoded copy and new
data instructions (IE copy from this part of the source, for this
length, or "add this new data").

There is also new data section, which contains the new data used by the
"add this new data" instructions.

When you repeatedly merge things from trunk to a branch, like say, a
ChangeLog, you end up with a lot of data new to that branch. This in
turns, ends up completely uncompressed in the new data section of

If you stare at something like the on-disk gcc repository revision
files, which have a lot of branch data, you will see there is just tons
of files that large pieces of plaintext data that represent merges from
trunk to branch.

In fact, we have revision files that are 30 meg each, and in each case,
80% of the data is just the new data section of a bunch of deltas.

This is pretty bad.

Changes I made:

To alleviate this problem, back when the earth's crust was cooling
(2002), i came up with an svndiff version 1, which compressed the new
data section using a secondary compressor. At the time, it was a
standalone range encoder.

I've recently revived that patch, and brought it up to date. I've
changed the compressor to use zlib, which is now *everywhere*.

Sparkly numbers:
This change buys about 40% of the disk space on the gcc repository.
8.5 gig to 5.2

A repository consisting of just gcc's changelog file, from all branches,
used to take up:

583178 db/revs

With the svndiff 1 patch, it now takes up

356591 gccrepo/db/revs

a 39% savings.

Time Costs and Backwards Compatibility

I should first note the cost is essentially zero in terms of time. We
only bother to compress if the new data section ends up being bigger
than some minimum size (currently 1024), and even then, the
compression/decompression time is completely lost in the noise, AFAICT.

In fact, for gcc's repo, it's actually faster, since it used to read 30
meg of revision file, and now only needs to read 5 meg, and the i/o was
slower than the decompression time.

As far as backwards compatibility, let me start by assuaging the most
common concern:

svndiff0 works perfectly, and we can always tell whether we have
svndiff1 or 0. This was actually not true in 2002, but part of the
patch back then (which made it in as part of some work c-mike as doing)
was to make the 'SVN<byte> header contain the version number in byte.
All our current code understands and respects this version number,
except for one small thing:

svn_txdelta_to_svndiff doesn't take a version number.

I've simply rev'd it to take a version number (IE made
svn_txdelta_to_svndiff2), and made the current function always use
version 0.

Parsing doesn't need to take an explicit version number, we can read it
out of the header.

The first thing i should note is that we now simply require zlib. I
haven't yet copied any configure magic necessary to let people point at
a place for it. But i don't think this is an unreasonable requirement,
as *everyone* ships zlib.

We have two things we *actually* need to worry about

Communicating with clients/servers using svndiff1 over the wire


Storing svndiff1 inside fsfs and bdb repositories.

The first case is actually easy to make backwards compatible, and i have
done so.

svnserve has a capabilities list it outputs from the server, and sends
from the client. We can simply check to make sure the side we want to
send svndiff1 to, supports it, by introducing a new capability and
checking for it. Unless we find a capability called "svndiff1", we only
send svndiff0.

mod_dav_svn + ra_dav lets us do a similiar thing with headers (I haven't
quite started this one yet, but this is what i am told)

The more interesting question is the stuff stored in the repo.

If we store svndiff1 in fsfs or bdb, only things that know about
svndiff1 can read it. This means older clients trying to directly
access the repo would fail.

We currently have no easy way to tell what version is in an svn
repository, other than the "format" file.

So we have two options:

1. Rev the format, allow creation of old/new format (defaulting to old),
and require dump and load to take advantage of svndiff1.

or a more interesting solution that came to my head, which is to borrow
an idea from real fs'en, and introduce a "features" file.

As an example, ext3 has feature bits set on the filesystem. There is a
feature bit for dir indexing, for whether the fs has a journal, etc.

If we added a feature file to the fsfs format (and bdb format), we could
actually let people control the features contained in their fs, and only
need a dump + load to change between features, instead of *requiring*
that they use certain features.

IOW, later on, if we add hash-indexing, we could make it optional simply
by adding a feature name for it, and putting that in the feature file.

If you wanted to get rid of hash indexing, you simply create a repo
without that feature (svnadmin would be extended to turn features on and
off, and tell you whether you need dump/load to do this right), dump the
old repo, and load into the new one.

Boom, no more hash indexing, and we didn't need to change the format
file back to and older revision.

The same could be true of svndiff1. We can simply make it optional, and
instead of revving the format, make it a feature, much like how in
svnserve it is simply a capability.

The advantage here is that for something like svndiff1, if you don't
want to dump/load, if you added it to the features, it would just cause
newer revisions to use svndiff1, and the older ones would stay the way
they are.
Dunno whether we care or not.

If we go with this, the features file would mostly be a written hash
containing the features, and read on fs open. If we find a feature we
can't support, we error out.

Or we could just rev the format :)

Any hoo, i've attached the current patch, which i've cross-tested 1.2.x
against patched 1.4.x servers, patched 1.4.x against 1.2.x servers, and
the same type of deal for 1.3.x.

I've not dealt with backwards compat for repos yet. If you use this
patch, you're created repos will use svndiff1.

I obviously have no plans to commit this until we work out these issues,
and revise the patch. Thus, style nits, etc, are not necessary. I'm
aware it's non-perfect :)


  Add new svndiff1 diff encoding.

  * configure.in: Require zlib unconditionally

  * notes/svndiff: Add svndiff1 description

  * subversion/libsvn_fs_base/reps-strings.c
    (svn_fs_base__rep_deltify): Use svn_txdelta_to_svndiff2.

  * subversion/libsvn_fs_base/util/fs_skels.c
    (is_valid_rep_delta_chunk_skel): Version 1 is valid.

  * subversion/include/svn_error_codes.h: Add SVN_ERR_SVNDIFF_INVALID_VERSION

  * subversion/include/svn_ra_svn.h: Add SVN_RA_SVN_CAP_SVNDIFF1.
  * subversion/include/svn_delta.h: Add svn_txdelta_to_svndiff2.

  * subversion/tests/libsvn_delta/svndiff-test.c
   (main): Add optional version argument.
   Use svn_txdelta_to_svndiff2.

  * subversion/testes/libsvn_delta/random-test.c
    (random_test): Use svn_txdelta_to_svndiff2 and version 1 diffs.

  * subversion/libsvn_repos/dump.c
    (store_delta): Ditto.

  * subversion/libsvn_ra_svn/client.c
    (auth_response): Transmit svndiff1 capability.
    (open_session): Ditto.
  * subversion/libsvn_ra_svn/protocol: Document svndiff1 capability.

  * subversion/libsvn_ra_svn/editor.c, subversion/libsvn_ra_svn/editorp.c
    (ra_svn_apply_textdelta): Use svn_txdelta_to_svndiff2, and use svndiff1
    if supported.

  * subversion/libsvn_delta/svndiff.c: Include zlib.h
    (struct encoder_baton): Add version.
    (zlib_encode): New function.
    (window_handler): Add ability to produce svndiff1.
    (svn_txdelta_to_svndiff2): New function.
    (svn_txdelta_to_svndiff): Init version to zero.
    (struct decode_baton): Add version.
    (zlib_decode): New function.
    (decode_window): Handle decoding svndiff1.
    (write_handler): Ditto.
    (read_window_header): Add version argment.
    (svn_txdelta_read_svndiff_window): Pass version to decode_window.
    (svn_txdelta_skip_svndiff_window): Ditto.

  * subversion/svnserve/serve.c
    (serve): Write out svndiff1 capability.

  * subversion/libsvn_fs/fs_fs.c
    (rep_write_get_baton): Use svn_txdelta_to_svndiff2, and version 1.


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Received on Fri Oct 21 21:27:13 2005

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