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I am working on a project wherein we are to use SVN as a source repository and we need to identify a branching strategy. I am aware of branch by release & branch by feature strategies to certain extent but I am no expert and I am not sure which one or if at all either is more suitable to our requirement.

We have 2 environments, Production and Pre-Production. Once a feature is released it is first deployed in pre-production and tested rigorously before moving to production. So production environment is typically a couple of versions behind latest code version. We might receive bugs on both Production and Pre-production simultaneously. If a bug is reported on production, we need to deliver the fix on top of its current version while if on pre-production it needs to be delivered on that particular release latest version.

Has anyone had similar requirement and experience of handling such a situation. It will be good to understand the candidate solutions with pros and cons of each.

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Seems like we use similar staging/pre-production routine in our company.

Our branching strategy is (we use Git):

  • master contains releases, marked by tags (1.0.0, 1.0.1, ...)
  • small bugfixes (1 commit) go directly onto master
  • next versions go to branches like "devel-x.y.z"
  • features and bigger fixes are branched off version branches ("feature-foo" on top of "devel-x.y.z"), so noone steps on others' toes

Project managers decide which fixes/features must go into next release, then we merge all selected branches into master and roll out the next release semi-automatically with Maven release plugin. We often do rebases to keep repository's history as linear as possible.

So, in short, we do both branch-by-release (because we support different versions of our products) and branch-by-feature/bugfix. There is no contradiction.

branch-by-release

Pros:

  • we can reject or skip a release without touching master because we merge feature branches into release branches, not into master
  • you see which release you are working on

Cons: none I see

branch-by-feature

Pros:

  • you don't step on other's toes: just merge when you're done
  • you can track progress of each feature (we use Jira)
  • you can track changes of each feature in the past (we name branches after Jira issues and leave them be after merging and also we prefix commit message with the issue name)

Cons:

  • gets messy if there are a lot of features going at the same time and you merge something in the middle. It is kinda because of the fact that you CAN have as many branches as you want - you're not forced to implement features sequentially. Maybe it is not really a contrary, but it wouldn't be possible otherwise

SVN

Since you mentioned it... SVN will not work for what I described. I have just a little experience with it, and it was pain. Speaking of branching, SVN branches are heavy and slow, and you cannot commit offline. I'm not a hater, it's just lacks many features I need. I recommend Git, but you might also look at Mercurial or other DVCS's.

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