Merging is used to incorporate changes from one ‘development line’ into another.


Subversion’s merging has been improved for various major Subversion releases. For certain merge features, there are minimum requirements on the server version. Also, merging may behave differently depending on the server version.

Two very common use cases of merging are release branches and feature branches:

  • A release branch is typically forked off from the main development line ( trunk) after the ‘release’ of a new version (of the software project, of the website, etc). With the ‘release’ the corresponding version typically goes into ‘production use ‘ and has to gain on stability while the development continues on the trunk. Therefore a release branch will only receive problem fixes (bug fixes) from trunk by merging them to the branch.
  • A feature branch is a line of development that is being worked on in parallel to the trunk, for the purpose of developing a new ‘feature’ which is brought back to the trunk after completion. A feature branch is frequently merged from trunk to stay up to date with the trunk changes, and once the implementation of the ‘feature’ has been finished, all relevant changes are merged back to the trunk.

For more in-depth information on these use cases, for examples and for general information, refer to


As merging can often turn out to be rather tricky, a few recommandations will be given here:

  • Do only recursive merges and try to always merge on the same ‘merge root’, preferably trunk itself or the root of a branch.
  • Avoid merging into a working copy which contains mixed revisions. Therefore do an Update, preferably to HEAD, beforehand.
  • Avoid merging into non-recursively (or incompletely) checked out working copies. To do so, run an Update More on your merge root, selecting all files and directories and the Recurse into subdirectories option.