First Looks

SourceGear Vault 3.0: Lock Up Your Code

SourceGear Vault 3.0 takes advantage of SQL Server's support for transactions, referential integrity, security, and more to protect your code. Plus a look at Wise Package Studio Professional 5.6

Whether you're a one-person shop or one of a legion of developers on a project, source-code control is one of your most important tools. And one of the best available is SourceGear Vault, with support for VS and .NET.

I've been using Vault since version 1.0, and it just keeps getting better. The source code is stored in SQL Server so that Vault is able to take advantage of the database's support for transactions, referential integrity, security, and more to protect the code. Clients can run on any operating system because they interact with the server through Web services (see Figure 1). SourceGear has both Windows and Linux clients available (on Linux it is a command-line client that uses Mono).

Version 3.1 of Vault brings the product into full maturity. Large file uploads timed out in earlier versions, but 3.1 works great and operations are noticeably faster. The clients are now integrated with both SourceGear's Dragnet and Fog Creek's FogBugz bug-tracking software. Vault now supports e-mail notifications of changes to the repository and either checksums or dates to determine whether a file has changed. You can now undo a checkout from where the file was checked out and resolve the merge status on multiple files as a group. These and the many other enhancements provide for secure protection of code and easy management.

You can opt to use either CVS or SourceSafe mode to manage the code you're working on. I use CVS mode when I'm working alone on a project because I don't have to check out files before I begin working on them and then merge changes to files. Teams can use SourceSafe mode to enforce that only one member can check out a particular file at a time, thus avoiding conflicts when two developers attempt to check in the same file with different changes. Vault provides plenty of options for managing these sorts of details.

I prefer using the standalone Vault client, but Vault also includes a nice add-in for Visual Studio that lets you check code modules out and back in from within the VS IDE. A command-line client lets you easily integrate checkins and refreshing local code from build tools such as NAnt.

The one feature I'd love to see added to the Vault Windows client is the ability to compare a repository tree to a folder and subfolders on a drive, so that you can check for new files added to a directory but not yet under source control. However, I suppose I could develop such a tool using the Vault Client API if it were important enough to me.

Is Vault worth buying when Visual SourceSafe (VSS) comes "free" with most Microsoft development tools? That's a no-brainer. VSS hasn't been updated in several versions of VS, and the changes even in VS 2005 are minor. Microsoft's new Visual Studio Team System is far more than a source-code control, but it is a version 1.0 product and is breathtakingly expensive. I'm sticking with Vault for the foreseeable future. It's a great product from a company that clearly cares about what it does.

SourceGear Vault 3.1
Phone: 217-356-0105 x399
Price: Free for single user; $289/user (user packs available)
Quick Facts: Complete source-control system that provides all the features necessary to manage code and your team's use of it.
Pros: Three different clients; reasonable per-seat pricing; robust server hosted in a SQL Server database; great support.
Cons: No easy way to compare repository tree to folder on drive for missing files.

Install Enterprise Apps Safely
by Andy Clark

Wise Package Studio Professional 5.6 is a full-featured system ideal for IT shops charged with packaging and deploying enterprise-wide installations. It not only supports developing the installations, but it also provides testing tools that support deployment with confidence (see Figure 1).

You begin by creating a package, ideally on a machine that is configured identically to your target machines. Wise Package Studio runs the installation for you and records the changes the installation makes to your file system, the registry, and other parts of the Windows environment. It makes detailed before-and-after copies of your machine, so it's important to record the installation on a machine that is otherwise inactive and relatively clean. Wise supplies an editor that allows you to alter anything changed by the installation. You can use this tool to remove redundant files from the installation, set up the application to run from a network server, or make other changes appropriate for your organization.

Wise Package Studio is an excellent tool for enforcing enterprise-wide standards. Its built-in package validation tool verifies that the installation meets various compatibility requirements, and it supports numerous built-in compatibility tests that check for such things as compatibility with the Windows Installer and Terminal Services. You have the ability to modify these tests as well as create your own validations.

Wise Package Studio tests its own packages by performing the installation against target machines and verifying that the expected changes are performed. You can use this step to verify that the installation will work against more than one configuration. There is also an optional QA module that scans target systems for conflicts with other software and helps you resolve these conflicts. Note that Wise builds a package and moves it into position, but does not perform distributions. All of these activities are saved in project files that you can stop, start, and restart at any point and reuse for later installations.

You can use Wise Package Studio to perform and validate any type of installation. It is ideally suited for working with patches, in-house applications, and third-party software. The product can help you know exactly what changes an installation makes on your enterprise's computers, confirm that the installation meets your standards, and verify that the installation will work before rolling it out. This capability is vital to any IT department that cannot afford to spend its time resolving installation issues.

Wise Package Studio Professional Edition 5.6
Wise Solutions
Phone: 800-554-8565; 734-456-2100
Price: $4,599
Quick Facts: Fully integrated system for deployment and installation testing.
Pros: Supports testing of patches and helps in enforcing enterprise-wide standards.
Cons: Works best with dedicated build workstations.

About the Author

Don Kiely is a senior technology consultant in Fairbanks, Alaska. When he isn't writing software, he's writing about it, speaking about it at conferences, and training developers in it. Reach him at [email protected].

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