For my teaching I’ve been using Netbeans this semester, which has overall been wonderful.  Overall Netbeans has been an even better experience than Eclipse for teaching — though both have a steeper learning curve than I’d prefer.

I’ve enjoyed Netbeans’ built-in subversion support.  (This is not a differentiator with Eclipse, just a comment.)  However, getting subversion working reliably with netbeans on a windows box is a bit fiddly, and the online documentation makes it seem easier than it is.  It’s easiest to break the setup into steps, and get each of them working before moving on to the next step.  (Part of what makes the documentation a bit complicated is that there are many alternatives.  I’m just going to describe one simple alternative, that assumes that you have a shell account on the Unix computer that contains your subversion repository.)  Here are the steps:

1. Get plink (from putty) working on your box.  Plink will be used by CollabNet to tunnel svn+ssh subversion connections.  First install the full putty from the web site.  Then create a .ssh key for putty using ssh-keygen, store it in a safe place on your Windows computer, and install the key in the authorized_keys file on your Unix server.  Then test with:

./PLINK.EXE -v -l <username> -i c:/path/to/key/file/id_rsa_putty.ppk <remote-host>

The result should be an ssh session to your remote host.  (plink is not a good client to actually use for ssh — prefer putty — but this is a simple test that it’s working.)  (I’m using forward slashes in the above because I run it in cygwin shells.  You’ll need backward slashes if you run it in the traditional unix command console.)

2. Install CollabNet’s Subversion Client.  They have a simple installer.

3. Look in your Application Data directory for the Subversion subdirectory.  (It’s possible you have to run the Subversion Client once to cause this directory to be created.)  Edit the config file in that directory.  Look for the section called “tunneling”. In that section, after all the comments, add a line:

ssh = c:/Program Files/putty-0.60/plink.exe -v -l <username> -i c:/path/to/keyfile/id_rsa_putty.ppk

Here you use forward slashes, because the Subversion Client will translate them.  The path to plink.exe should be changed to wherever you put plink. Adding this line to the config file tells the Subversion Client what command to use with URLs of the form svn+ssh.

4. Test the subversion client from the command line with:

./svn ls svn+ssh://<remote-host>/path/to/remote/svn-repo

If this works you have a working subversion client on windows, which is 80% of the battle!

5.In Netbeans go to Tools/Options/Miscellaneous/Versioning and set the Path to the SVN Client to:

C:\Program Files\CollabNet\Subversion Client

(or wherever you installed Subversion).

6. Right click on a directory and you should be able to use Subversion Update and Commit commands!

Occasionally when things are tricky the netbeans client gets confused.  I just use the command-line client to do an svn update, and all is usually well after that.

One issue to watch out for: subversion is very sensitive to version changes.  The working copy (checked out version) will be updated by the subversion client to the style that version of the client expects.  So if you use both a netbeans client and a command-line client you should make sure they’re the same “point” version number.  (E.g., They should both be 1.6.x, though they can have different xs.)

Good luck!


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