6 – Assembla Review – Excellent Free Subversion Hosting

This article is the sixth in a series of guides about my experiences  using Subversion (svn) for Web Development.  These are the articles in the series:

1. A Desktop-Laptop Solution for Web Developers – Using Subversion to Co-Exist
2. What is Subversion and How Does it Help in the Web Design and Development Process?
3. A Subversion Workflow for Web Developers and Web Development
4. A Review of SmartSVN – a GUI Subversion client for Windows
5.  A Quick Review of Online Options for Hosted Subversion for Web Developers
6. A Brief Review of Assembla, an Online Subversion Hosting Company (this article).

In my quest to find a solution to the “laptop by day, more powerful desktop system by night” problem, I came across the idea of using subversion with Dreamweaver.  Now I know I could have used one of a dozen sync program (I actually use syncback and I love it) to go back and forth, but I wanted to add sync with some level of version control.  As web developers and coders can attest, version control is critical in any project; it doesn’t matter how you do it — as long as it works for you.

So I went ahead and started testing using Dreamweaver with SVN. . Because I’m always on the go, I wanted to find some kind of secure , easy, reliable and indexpensive subversion hosting, and I came across Assembla.

Free Subversion Hosting with Assembla

Being new to SVN, I really needed a system that was simple to use, and easy to integrate from my client of choice (currently I run SmartSVN on one machine, and TortosieSVN on the other).  I did some hunting and Assembla offers 2GB of subversion hosting for free — which is more space than I found with any other company.  I must underscore that being new to SVN, I really only need a limited feature set.  But for the features I need, Assembla does a great job:

  • Easy Setup:  I was configured and up and running in minutes.
  • Secure Access: It’s all SSL’d.
  • Easy and Fast Access:  I expected a speed drop because my repo is online but much to my pleasant surprise, Assembla is lightening fast in connection and in uploading/downloading. (My SVN clients show a definite speed difference, but that’s for later, too).
  • Exporting is Easy:  I’m used to a very rigid versioning system (which I still have in place), but Assembla allows you to quickly and easily download your repository.  So even though they’ve got it all backed up, it’s incredibly simple to take a snapshot of your repo and keep it in a safe place on your hard drive.

So for the beginning subversion user, I cannot recommend Assembla more highly.  I’ve yet to have a problem, and as long as I continue to use subversion, I’ll be hosting with Asssembla.

Update – A Few Weeks Later
I remain very happy with Assembla’s free service.  My only complaint is that they don’t seem to have an intermediate plan for smaller users like myself.  I’d be interested in working with tickets, but their basic plan that includes tickets starts at around $24/mo and includes way more resources than I need.  Some of the competition does offer tickets (via Trac and other systems) for between $5-$10/mo, but at this point since I’m not using tickets, I’m content to stay with Assembla.


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