My company is using CVS as our de-facto standard for source control. However, I've heard a lot of people say that SVN is better.
I know SVN is newer, but other than that, I'm unfamiliar with its benefits.
What I'm looking for is a good, succinct comparison of the two systems, noting any advantages or disadvantages of each in a Java/Eclipse development environment.
One of the many comparisons:
Now this is very specific to that project, but a lot of stuff apllies in general.
- Support for versioned renames/moves (impossible with CVS): Fingolfin, Ender
- Supports directories natively: It's possible to remove them, and they are versioned: Fingolfin, Ender
- File properties are versioned; no more "executable bit" hell: Fingolfin
- Overall revision number makes build versioning and regression testing much easier: Ender, Fingolfin
- Atomic commits: Fingolfin
- Intuitive (directory-based) branching and tagging: Fingolfin
- Easier hook scripts (pre/post commit, etc): SumthinWicked (I use it for Doxygen after commits)
- Prevents accidental committing of conflicted files: Salty-horse, Fingolfin
- Support for custom 'diff' command: Fingolfin
- Offline diffs, and they're instant: sev
The Subversion book has an appendix that details important differences from CVS, which may help you make your decision. The two approaches are more or less the same idea but SVN was specifically designed to fix long standing flaws in CVS so, in theory at least, SVN will always be the better choice.
CVS only tracks modification on a file-by-file basis, while SVN tracks a whole commit as a new revision, which means that it is easier to follow the history of your project. Add the fact that all modern source control software use the concept of revision so it is far easier to migrate from SVN than it is from CVS.
There is also the atomic commit problem. While I only encountered it once, it is possible that 2 people committing together in CVS can conflict each other, losing some data and putting your client in an inconsistent state. When detected early, these problems are not major because your data is still out there somewhere, but it can be a pain in a stressful environment.
And finally, not many tools are developed around CVS anymore. While the new and shiny-new tools like Git or Mercurial definitely lack tools yet, SVN has a pretty large application base on any system.
SVN has 3 main advantages over CVS
You should take a look at Git instead of SVN. It's a DVCS that's blazing-fast and very powerful. It's not as user-friendly as SVN, but it's improving in that regard, and it's not that hard to learn.
btw: CVSNT supports atomic commits
These products are fairly recent and the level of tooling and integration with them seems low at the moment (based on my initial research). I'd say they were best suited to the power-developers out there (and on here ;-)).
On the other hand, what doesn't CVS currently do for you? From your initial question, you don't really have any, "CVS sucks at this, what could I use instead?"
You've gotta weigh up the costs of any potential migration against the benefits. For an existing project, I think that it would be hard to justify.
One thing not to overlook is ecosystem. I was working at a CVSNT shop, and I was finding more and more open source tools supported SubVersion by default.
As someone who is in the middle of switching between CVS and SVN (initially we switched all of our projects with cvs2svn and then decided that we would transition by only using svn on new projects), here are some of the problems we have had.
you might also choose to migrate only the latest code from CVS into SVN and freeze your current CVS repo. this will make migration easier and you might also build your legacy releases in the old CVS repo.