WebSVN Installation Guide


Why WebSVN?

WebSVN offers a view onto your subversion repositories that's been designed to reflect the Subversion methodology. You can view the log of any file or directory and see a list of all the files changed, added or deleted in any given revision. You can also view the differences between 2 versions of a file so as to see exactly what was changed in a particular revision.

WebSVN offers the following features:

Since it's written using PHP, WebSVN is also very portable and easy to install.


Grab the source and stick it somewhere that your server can get to. You obviously need to have PHP 4.3.0 or greater installed and working. Also note that WebSVN won't currently work in safe mode, due to the need to call svnlook.

If it isn't already, make sure to chmod the cache directory to 0777. This is used to cache RSS files.

You'll also need diff (preferably the GNU version; for Windows users I'd recommend the Cygwin version) and svnlook available.

Rename distconfig.php as config.php (found in the includes directory) and then edit it as directed in the file itself.

If everything has gone well, you should be able to view your projects by pointing your browser at the index.php file.

For those of you wishing to customise the look and feel a little, you should read templates.txt, which explains the highly configurable template system.

Windows users: Note that some of the features offered by WebSVN, when enabled, require the use of various external programs. They can be downloaded from these locations:

Diff/Sed/Gzip/Tar: http://www.cygwin.com/
Enscript: http://people.ssh.com/mtr/genscript/

Accented characters

WebSVN is designed to worked with accented characters. To do this, it uses the iconv function. This may not be installed on your system. If you aren't getting the characters that you expect, make sure that the iconv module is being loaded in php.ini. Windows users will need to copy the appropriate DLLs to the system directory (from the PHP installation directory).


You can few files with syntax colouring if you have Enscript 1.6 or higher installed on your system. You'll also need Sed.

Simply set the paths in the config file and then uncomment the line:



You may choose to configure access to your repository via Apache's MultiView system. This will enable you to access a respositoy using a url such as:


To do this you must:

Now go to http://servername/wsvn/ and make sure that you get the index page.

The repname part of the URL is the name given to it in the config.php file. For this reason you may wish to avoid putting spaces in the name.

Multiviews example

First, you must get the Multiviews option working. In my set up, my Apache directory root is set to a location on my harddrive:

DocumentRoot "D:/svnpage"

In that directory, I have WebSVN installed in a directory called websvn. Normally WebSVN would be accessed by http://servername/websvn

wsvn.php is then copied from the WebSVN installation to the document root directory and the variable at the beginning of the script configured as follows (based on your own directory location, obviously):

// Location of websvn directory via HTTP
// e.g.  For http://servername/websvn use /websvn
// Note that wsvn.php need not be in the /websvn directory (and normally isn't).
$locwebsvnhttp = "/websvn";  

Next, turn on Multiviews in the WebSVN config.php file:


Finally, Apache needs to know that you want to enable MultiViews for the root directory. This can be done by including this line in the directory's .htaccess file (assuming that the appropriate AllowOverrides directive is set up):

Options MultiViews

If all has gone well, repositories should now by accessible by http://servername/wsvn/repname

Note the index page can be accessed through http://servername/wsvn If you want to view the index page by http://servername/ you need to add another directive to the .htaccess file:

DirectoryIndex wsvn.php

Access rights and authentication

You may wish to provide an authentication mechanism for WebSVN. One obvious solution is to protect the entire WebSVN directory with some form of Apache authentication mechanism, but that doesn't allow for per repository authentication.

WebSVN provides and access rights mechanism that uses your SVN access file to control read access to the repository. This means that you only have to maintain one file to define both Subversion and WebSVN access rights.

For this to work, you need to configure your authentication method to the /WebSVN/ (or /wsvn/) directory. This should be the same authentication as you use for the svn repositories themselves. Here's an example using SSPI:

<Location /WebSVN/>
  AuthType SSPI
  SSPIAuth On
  SSPIAuthoritative On
  SSPIOfferBasic On
  Require valid-user

Note the use of the / after /WebSVN/ in the location directive. If you use <Location /WebSVN> then you won't be able to access the index.

You should change /WebSVN/ to /wsvn/ if you're using multiviews.

Also note that you shouldn't use the AuthzSVNAccessFile command to define the access file.

Now that you've defined your authentication, you'll be asked for your user name and password in order to access the WebSVN directory. All that's left is to configure WebSVN to use your Subversion access file to control access. Add this line to your config.php file:


Note that if your access file gives read access to, for example, path /a/b/c/ but not to /a/b/, then the user will be given restricted access to /a/b/ in order to reach /a/b/c/. The user will not be able to see any other files or directories in /a or /a/b/.

You should read the Subversion book for information on the access file format.

Common problems

  1. On a Windows machine, this error is reported:
    Warning: shell_exec(): Unable to execute
    If you experience this problem, you need to give IUSR_<machinename> execute permissions on %systemroot%\system32\cmd.exe. Under most systems, the file will be C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe.
    Right-click on the file, choose properties, and on the security tab click the "Add" button. Add the IUSR_<machinename> user, and then select the "read" and "read & execute" boxes.


GNU Public licence.