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Yes, it is normal to start a build by checking out the code from the repository.
You are using the SVN executable in your example (not the Ant executable) via Ant's exec task. That's one way of doing it. The other way is to use the SVN Ant task. I used the command line SVN in my Ant builds - that approach is certainly viable.
The other possibility is using a continuous integration tool, such as Jenkins, to check out the sources from Subversion and it starts Ant to do the build. Besides, isn't the Ant script in the project's base directory and thus to get the script you have to first check out the project?
So, I have
1) checked my version of svn as 1.8.0 2) downloaded SvnAnt 1.3.x which is bound against subversion 1.6.x, but there is no 1.8.x available
3) unzipped svnant-1.3.1.zip into my ant/lib folder
4) put the following in my build file
5) and get the following message:
C:\Users\USER\Desktop\antrproject\build.xml:12: Problem: failed to create task or type svn
Cause: The name is undefined.
Action: Check the spelling.
Action: Check that any custom tasks/types have been declared.
Action: Check that any <presetdef>/<macrodef> declarations have taken place.
Any clues? I find this all a little bit secret java business.
PS also tried adding to the build.xml the following line, but not sure what it means and it doesn't work
I have my svn ant in "C:\ant\apache-ant-1.9.3-bin\apache-ant-1.9.3\lib\svnant.jar" ... to which I changed my classpathref but it still doesn't work