Staging / Development / Live SVN with Magento

Whether you are making £10 per hour, or £100,000 per hour – making adjustments to your live site is a practice best avoided. Whenever we start work on a new site, the first thing we do is set up an SVN repository and the relevant staging/dev domains. In this example, we are going to create a repository for “sonassi.com”. You’ll want to change the highlighted lines as necessary.

Install Subversion

First things first, you’ll want SVN installed.

For Debian/Ubuntu:

apt-get install subversion

For CentOS/RedHat:

yum install subversion 

Create the repository

Next we want to create the initial repository and perform the initial check-in.

cd /tmp
mkdir svntmp
cd svntmp
mkdir trunk branches tags branches/dev
cd /home/sonassi
mkdir svn
cd svn
svnadmin create sonassi.com
cd /tmp/svntmp/
svn import . file:///home/sonassi/svn/sonassi.com -m "Initial check in and folder structure"

Install an SVN browser

We also like to install a nice web based SVN browser, available from http://websvn.tigris.org/

cd /home/sonassi/subdomains/
wget -O svn-browser.tgz http://websvn.tigris.org/files/documents/1380/49056/websvn-2.3.3.tar.gz
tar xvfz svn-browser.tgz
rm svn-browser.tgz
mv websvn-* svn-browser

Now add the repository to the config

cp svn-browser/include/distconfig.php svn-browser/include/config.php
nano svn-browser/include/config.php

And around line 79,

$config->addRepository('Sonassi.com Repository', 'file:///home/sonassi/svn/sonassi.com');

Now we want to restrict access to this tool, IP address is fine for now

nano svn-browser/.htaccess
order deny,allow
deny from all
allow from my.ip.addr.ess

Prepare for first check in

Now we need to exclude certain files from version control and include others.

cd /home/sonassi/public_html/
svn co file:///home/sonassi/svn/sonassi.com/trunk .

This is up to you, but we like to exclude the following from version control. We do this by launching the SVN property editor,

svn propedit svn:ignore /home/sonassi/public_html/
media
LICENSE.html
pear
downloader
lib
includes
shell
cron.sh
.htaccess
js
robots.txt
cron.php
var
install.php
index.php
LICENSE.txt
svn status app/ |  grep "^\?" | awk '{print $2}' | xargs svn add
svn status skin/ |  grep "^\?" | awk '{print $2}' | xargs svn add

We want to ignore local.xml

svn revert app/etc/local.xml
svn propedit svn:ignore app/etc/

Then add local.xml and save the editor.

svn ci . -m "Initial file check in"
rm -rf /tmp/svntmp

Congratulations, you have now set up your first SVN repository. But it doesn’t end here, you’ll want to set up the staging site now.

Setting Up The Staging Site

You want the latest copy of the store database and files. We like to keep the staging site as a working copy of the trunk – as it allows quick updates without the complexity of merging/switching.

cp -par /home/sonassi/public_html /home/sonassi/subdomains/staging
rm -rf /home/sonassi/subdomains/staging/var/session/* /home/sonassi/subdomains/staging/var/cache/*

Unless you have unlimited disk space, it is normally worthwhile to create a common directory for media (and any other big folders). You do not want to symlink it to your live site – otherwise, and accidental product delete or image-cache flush will cause problems.

cd /home/sonassi/subdomains
mkdir common
mv /home/sonassi/subdomains/staging/media /home/sonassi/subdomains/common/
ln -s /home/sonassi/subdomains/common/media /home/sonassi/subdomains/staging/media

Create your new MySQL database for your staging site and have your credentials to hand, then dump the current DB and import it into the new DB. You can do this in 1 command using pipe – but we do not advocate this for large sites (it can lock up your live store for a few minutes).

mysqldump -h db.sonassi.com -u username_live datbase_live --single-transaction -p > /home/sonassi/subdomains/staging/var/backups/db_latest.sql
sed -i 's/www.sonassi.com/www.sonassi.com/g' /home/sonassi/subdomains/staging/var/backups/db_latest.sql
mysql -h db.sonassi.com -u username_staging datbase_staging -p < /home/sonassi/subdomains/staging/var/backups/db_latest.sql

Then edit your ./app/etc/local.xml file to reflect the new database details.

Now we want to restrict access to this site, IP address is fine for now

nano /home/sonassi/subdomains/staging/.htaccess
order deny,allow
deny from all
allow from my.ip.addr.ess

That's it, you now have a working copy of your trunk in a staging environment. You should use this site only for minor CSS changes, previews and pre-live modifications. You shouldn't use this site for any work that will take longer than 1 day to complete, otherwise it prevents other staging/live updates from being able to take place.

You just edit files within as necessary, preview - when you are happy, just check in the changes, head to your live directory and update.

cd /home/sonassi/subdomains/staging/
svn ci . -m "I just changed style.css"
cd /home/sonassi/public_html/
svn update .

Setting Up a Development Branch

For anything that is going to take some real time to complete (eg. building a new module), it is worth create a separate branch for it. Begin by cloning the site using the same process above for the staging site. Then you just SVN copy and switch the working copy to be your development branches.

svn cp file:///home/sonassi/svn/sonassi.com/trunk \
file:///home/sonassi/svn/sonassi.com/branches/dev \
-m "Branching from trunk to branches/dev at r2"

cd /home/sonassi/subdomains/dev
svn switch file:///home/sonassi/svn/sonassi.com/branches/dev .

Once you have finished with your work, add the new files to the repository, check in and feel free to delete the files and DB - branches can be considered disposable (to an extent), when the work is complete.

cd /home/sonassi/subdomains/dev
svn add app/etc/modules/Sonassi_MyNewModule.xml app/code/community/Sonassi/MyNewModule
svn ci . -m "I just added a Sonassi_MyNewModule"

Merge your branch into the trunk

Now that you have added your new module in a branch, you'll need to merge it into the trunk. Assuming you have no conflicts - it is quite a painless process.

Change directory to your live site and run SVN merge to merge your development branch with your current directory

cd /home/sonassi/public_html
svn merge file:///home/sonassi/svn/sonassi.com/trunk file:///home/sonassi/svn/sonassi.com/branches/dev .

Update the status of your live repository

svn status . |  grep "^\?" | awk '{print $2}' | xargs svn add

Then finally, check your changes in

svn ci . -m "Merged branch dev to trunk at r6"

That's it

Hopefully you've read enough to wet your feet in the use of SVN and be able to use proper development practices with your Magento store.

  • Jonathan Melnick

    Good tutorial, but isn’t SVN outdated? It’s 12 years old, and doesn’t come close to the new distributed version control systems like Git or Mercurial.

  • sonassi

    It certainly is much older, and probably not quite as fast as GIT – but it is the versioning software I’m best versed in. I’m not sure I’d be qualified to write an article for Git (not yet anyway!)

  • Pingback: Our Magento Git Guide and Work Flow | Sonassi Makes Magento Ecommerce Websites

  • Steve Holdoway

    typo??
    sed -i ‘s/www.sonassi.com/www.sonassi.com/g’ /home/sonassi/subdomains/staging/var/backups/db_latest.sql

    I’m a bit more paranoid than you, and would in preference site the repository on a remote server, and include all the source code – just so you don’t have to faff around finding the right Mage verson to load over. I would also use subversion in preference to git unless there was a distributed group of development teams. The extra administration that may be necessary to keep git clean would be an unnecessary overhead in most cases ( it is – after all still (at least) a 3rd generation VCS ).