Monday, November 18, 2002

Nice, simple, low-cost Version Control for Windows

Looking to add source code control to your application, but perhaps put off by the high cost of Microsoft Visual SourceSafe (VSS), or the complications of open source tools like CVS? If you're in a windows environment (only), take a look at QumaSoft's QVCS. It's quite easy to set up and use (includes a Windows interface for managing revisions), and also integrates with Studio/HomeSite (by way of their "project" feature).

If you've never used the projects feature or not set one up to work with Version Control, see Chapter 9 of the "Using HomeSite" book available online. It's the same process in Studio and HomeSite+.

If you want to use QVCS from within Studio/HomeSite, just be sure to first enable the "IDE Integration" feature in QVCS (under the "Admin" menu command). It doesn't seem to matter if you set it as what QVCS calls the "default" version control tool option.

Note also that in creating a "project" in QVCS (not technically the same as a Studio/HomeSite project, but they can both point at the same source code directory), QVCS offers a feature called a "reference copy" location. This seems similar to what VSS calls a "shadow" directory. If you're working in a team, this is a place where whenever you check-in files, they are copied both to the source code repository (called the "archives" in QVCS) in binary form as well as to this "reference" directory in text form, such as to act as the testing/integration directory for a team of developers.

I may put together a couple of movies showing how all this works, but besides the Studio/HomeSite help reference I gave you, there's also decent help in QVCS (including a couple of tutorial chapters in the Help as well as an available PDF of the entire help file), so most people should be able to take it from here. Enjoy!

(BTW, if you're wondering whether you can use this with Dreamweaver MX, sadly, it seems no. The feature in DWMX for working with VSS--in the "remote info" feature of a site--is really a direct connection to the VSS database, not to the SCC API integration such as is used by QVCS, VSS, and other source code tools. There seems to be no SCC API support in DWMX.

This isn't the end of the world, however. If you use DWMX, you can still benefit from using this or any other source code control tool. It, like others, offers its own interface for performing checkin, checkout, comparing files, reporting and lots more. Indeed, if DWMX is setup to be the default application to open the files you want to control--if double-clicking the file in Windows Explorer would open Dreamweaver--then double-clicking it in the QVCS interface will offer to check-out the file and then open it within DWMX. That's a reasonable compromise. You just then would go back to the QVCS interface to check the file/s in when done after saving it in DWMX.)

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