By default, most Subversion operations on directories act in a recursive manner. For example, svn checkout creates a working copy with every file and directory in the specified area of the repository, descending recursively through the repository tree until the entire structure is copied to your local disk. Subversion 1.5 introduces a feature called sparse directories (or shallow checkouts) that allows you to easily check out a working copy—or a portion of a working copy—more shallowly than full recursion, with the freedom to bring in previously ignored files and subdirectories at a later time.
For example, say we have a repository with a tree of files and directories with names of the members of a human family with pets. (It’s an odd example, to be sure, but bear with us.) A regular svn checkout operation will give us a working copy of the whole tree:
$ svn checkout file:///var/svn/repos mom A mom/son A mom/son/grandson A mom/daughter A mom/daughter/granddaughter1 A mom/daughter/granddaughter1/bunny1.txt A mom/daughter/granddaughter1/bunny2.txt A mom/daughter/granddaughter2 A mom/daughter/fishie.txt A mom/kitty1.txt A mom/doggie1.txt Checked out revision 1. $
Now, let’s check out the same tree again, but this time we’ll ask Subversion to give us only the topmost directory with none of its children at all:
$ svn checkout file:///var/svn/repos mom-empty --depth empty Checked out revision 1 $
Notice that we added to our original svn
checkout command line a new