When a project is opened, the contents of the directory tree and the file table are initialized by reading at least the contents of the root directory into memory. Whether the complete project should also be read into memory at project startup or not can be configured in the project settings (Project Settings).
The scanning and refreshing of the project's directories and files is in general performed in the background, so you can immediately start to work after opening a project and you may continue to work while the project is refreshed. If a Refresh is currently in progress, the status bar shows a Refreshing text and symbol.
The initial scanning/refresh is in general much slower than subsequent refreshes due to the system disk cache.
A manual View|Refresh will be needed, if you are performing SVN operations with another SVN client (i.e. outside of SmartSVN).
SmartSVN is only refreshing relevant parts and with changes to
.svn/-admin area it's hard to tell what's relevant. On the other hand, usually, the
.svn/-admin is only changed by SVN clients. Hence, SmartSVN has two options:
(1) process .
svn/-admin area file monitor events (because they might originate from a different SVN client) and refreshing the entire working copy recursively or
(2) don't process these events (because they have been produced by SmartSVN itself and hence are redundant).
Given commonness of these use cases and performance reasons, we have have opted for (2).