Software Development > SVN and Dreamweaver CS4 Integration

SVN and Dreamweaver CS4 Integration

Published: June 30, 2009

One of the biggest features for developers in Dreamweaver CS4 is the Subversion (SVN) integration. Hearing about this feature makes you want to clap your hands and get ready for more efficient coding fun!

This isn't Dreamweaver's first taste of integrated version control. MS Visual SourceSafe (VSS) used to be the old flavour for DW but has since been given the flick. Interestingly, VSS was one of the worst version control systems available and it was so bad MS didn't even use it in-house for there own development! Despite the short comings of VSS the DW integration was pretty good. Nothing special but it worked (most of the time).

Adobe is now trumpeting its support for SVN and its new tools for integration. One might wonder about Git and CVS support but once you see the SVN integration you'll be thankful they are absent.

With all that being said, let's have a closer look...

Setting up SVN Server Access

First you'll want to setup access to your repository. It's all relatively simple with the set up handled in the "Manage Sites..." area. The only snags come about if you are using svn+ssh access. If you use svn+ssh you'll get a "helpful" warning message informing you that you are going to have to dig through some help files to complete the set up - no joke. What they are saying is - Google this complication and we'll guide you through some rigmarole. The rigmarole consists of setting up some ssh keys and a small dose of Terminal configuration. It's not the most painful experience but it's not a smooth procedure by any stretch. At the time it seems like it's worth it because SVN integration sure sounds sweet.

Once connected to the repository. It's not surprising to find DW complaining that a different version of SVN was used to check out the repo. Okay, fine. Delete the working copy and fish it again from the server via DW. Now everything should be sweet and peachy.

SVN Menu Options

Now it's time to have a look at all the cool menu options you get to use - which is whole reason for the integration, right? Scanning through the menu you'll see there's not a lot there. Those familiar with the SVN4DW extension and the power of TortoiseSVN will be a little shocked. The words commit, revert, and compare are absent. Lock and un-lock appear as normal but the words check-in and check-out seem a little out of place. "Check-in" means commit and "check-out" means update. If this reviewer didn't know better he'd say that this is the same old version control system as the VSS days but with a new connector for an SVN repository!

Fair enough if Adobe want to reuse some code but this is just confusing and stupid. Not only because there are a bunch of options missing - delete, rename, etc. but there seems to be no way to place an 'ignore' property on a directory or a file or use any other properties for that matter.

And you think Tortoises are Slow...

Another thing worth mentioning is that it's slow. Sure it might not be DW's fault as there is communication with a server required but don't get the idea of multitasking while DW is doing something. It's an outrage and this is something DW has had a problem with for generations.


All in all the whole integration reeks of shenanigans. This is the big selling point for DW CS4 and it's pretty much useless. If you are thinking you might be able to use it just for the odd commit (aka "check-in") you might need to think again. DW is based on SVN version 1.4. If you have an SVN client based on a newer version, DW is going to refuse any more communication with the SVN server...

Error: "SVN: #155021. You cannot update this file using Dreamweaver's Subversion integration... " When Connecting to Subversion in Dreamweaver CS4

Adobe's way around this is to recommend you install an extension that can sweep through and revert your meta data back to version 1.4. Great idea - if only it worked. In the end this leaves the user with one alternative. Don't use Dreamweaver CS4's integration and stick to a stable client that won't give you so much grief.

Don't forget to give Adobe a big thanks for their one (and only) notable new feature to DW since the days of MX.

Had a similar experience or totally love the integration, let us know by leaving a comment...


1. Gary Woodfine on July 2, 2009

After reading you post I am going to give CS4 a wide berth. Thanks for this I was contemplating the $199 for the upgrade, simply because of the SVN integration, but based on your post I'm going to carry on with TortoiseSVN from explorer!

2. Jim Mead on August 24, 2009

I have trialled CS4 for a little while and agree that the SVN support is almost useless, updates and commits are slow and you are forced to wait for them to complete, they also seem to use a fair amount of resources which prevents you from working in another application.

I have also noticed that it does not allow you to delete files from a project (unless there is some hidden option to do this), when you delete files and commit, the next time you update the files will be back.

It doesnít seem to notify you about conflicts (other than a tiny red icon in the file tree), so if your tree is collapsed you may not notice the conflict.

It also seems to use non standard line terminators for multiline commit comments, which will cause your commit to fail when entering comments on multiple lines.

The only thing I like about it is the little icons that show which files you have updated and added, which can help in quickly finding files you have already edited.

What we need is an extension that can add all the Tortoise functionality into Dreamweaver, there is one but it doesnít do everything.

3. Nicholas Mangold on October 1, 2009

I just realized that Dreamweaver CS4 supports Subversion, and hoped this would replace the need for TortoiseSVN. However, I was disappointed. I could not ignore files easily.

4. Alex Evans on January 12, 2010

You can try out - an extension SVN for Dreamweaver.

We use it and we are quite happy. Is OK, not the best like Tortoise, but is quite OK for DW environment.

5. Funka! on January 12, 2010

As noted, the newest SVN integration in CS4 is not a complete offering, so you have to augment it with something like TortoiseSVN or the command line. Problem is, if you're using the latest version of TortoiseSVN, Dreamweaver doesn't understand its newer client version (or something like that) and won't work in harmony with your working copies. Or at least that's what I'm discovering.

Today however I found the SubWeaver project which is a plugin to give a TortoiseSVN menu item for working in DreamWeaver. (You could use this as an alternative to working with DW's own built-in "SVN" functionality about which the author of this blog writes.)


6. John on July 6, 2010

Even in CS5 the SVN integration is painfully slow and keeps causing DW to lockup.

I just use works like a dream and its free.

Any Comments?


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