Checkout one file from Subversion


"It is not possible to check out a single file. The finest level of checkouts you can do is at the directory level."

How do I get around this issue when using Subversion?

We have this folder in Subversion where we keep all our images. I just want to check out one file (image) from that. This folder is really big and has ton of other stuff which I don't need now.

Best Solution

The simple answer is that you svn export the file instead of checking it out.

But that might not be what you want. You might want to work on the file and check it back in, without having to download GB of junk you don't need.

If you have Subversion 1.5+, then do a sparse checkout:

svn checkout <url_of_big_dir> <target> --depth empty
cd <target>
svn up <file_you_want>

For an older version of SVN, you might benefit from the following:

  • Checkout the directory using a revision back in the distant past, when it was less full of junk you don't need.
  • Update the file you want, to create a mixed revision. This works even if the file didn't exist in the revision you checked out.
  • Profit!

An alternative (for instance if the directory has too much junk right from the revision in which it was created) is to do a URL->URL copy of the file you want into a new place in the repository (effectively this is a working branch of the file). Check out that directory and do your modifications.

I'm not sure whether you can then merge your modified copy back entirely in the repository without a working copy of the target - I've never needed to. If so then do that.

If not then unfortunately you may have to find someone else who does have the whole directory checked out and get them to do it. Or maybe by the time you've made your modifications, the rest of it will have finished downloading...