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Storing externals for future generations?

From: Gabriel Cooper <gabriel.cooper_at_mediapulse.com>
Date: 2006-07-26 21:54:49 CEST
Hi there.

(First I'd like to say I'm rather new to externals so I could be asking about a feature that exists already...)

I'm currently in the process of making a duplicate of a web server for an important client. Thing is, the sites on the box haven't been touched in any significant way for over four years. That being said, many of the tools used to create the web server are versioned far ahead of what is compatible with the sites today and some very important pieces were some time ago deprecated and eventually removed from the internet entirely!

While looking at a new project that uses SVN externals it occurred to me to wonder whether externals would solve this problem. If my cursory digging and understanding is correct, the way externals work is that instead of needing a local copy of a library and needing to manually keep it up to date, externals will automatically do this for you by looking at the originating source you tell it to and pull from there instead of the local repository.

So. Thinking long term, what would happen if the scenario above pertained not to installed programs, but to software libraries obtained from external sources? If your external repositories from http://svn.somewhere.com/ImportantLibrary disappeared, would you have access to your library anymore?

If I understand correctly, you would not. It would attempt to look for the latest version of your external repository and fail fail alltogether. And so presumably you'd be left with a non-functioning application.

So why not then keep a local copy of the repository and have externals function such that it merely verifies that your repository has the most up to date files before it commits them? That way even if your foreign repositories disappear your files won't and your application will continue to run smoothly.

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