Source Integrity is one hell of a VCS. The management and client interfaces are easy to navigate and use. Creating projects is a breeze, and checking out files from a project is a snap.
Source Integrity comprises a server, a licensing server and clients. Operating-system interoperability is excellent. We ran the server on Linux and Microsoft Windows NT and flipped between clients on both. We found no disparity between the systems.
Source Integrity offers multiple mechanisms for access control. Windows NT-based authentication, flat-file-based authentication, and Unix/ Linux groups and users can serve as sources for determining access. We were extremely pleased by the granularity of security on objects and actions. Security is offered for actions such as promotion and demotion of versions, check-in and checkout of source files, and labeling and versioning of source. This feature is found in rudimentary implementations in other systems, but none provides the depth of security of Source Integrity.
Source Integrity uses a repository system based on RCS, but the system offers a great deal of project-level management not offered by Visual SourceSafe and Perforce. The product provides an intuitive mechanism for labeling and handling both revisions and releases by project.
The one thing we'd like to see disappear from Source Integrity -- and from SiberSafe for that matter -- is the use of licensing systems. It's not the licensing per se that we don't like -- it's the licensing servers that give us pause. Source Integrity uses the FlexLM system, which is supported only on Windows NT and Solaris. Licensing systems offer yet another point of failure for developers and a headache for administrators.
Source Integrity Enterprise Edition 8.1; Integrity Manager 4.2. Available: Now. Mortice Kern Systems, (800) 265-2797, (519) 884-225; fax (519) 884-8861. www.mks.com
Concurrent Versions System (CVS)
CVS is one of the most enigmatic VCSes we've seen. Although we found servers and clients for just about every platform, the concern is, of course, that the CVS systems are all open source and therefore provide widely varied feature sets and management. We looked at the CLI and also examined WinCVS, a Windows-based client.
We liked that the security aspects of CVS relied on the server operating system, and we were pleased with the number of open-source and commercial IDEs that integrate smoothly with CVS: Borland Software Corp.'s JBuilder and the KDE 2.0 KDevelop development platforms both offer CVS integration.
We also enjoyed the Web-based access available for CVS. Many open-source projects use this Web-based interface, and it's an excellent solution for supporting geographically disparate developers. Perforce also provides a Web-based interface, but it lacks the navigability and robustness of the CVS interface.
Concurrent Versions System (open source). Available: Now. www.cvshome.org
Microsoft Corp. Visual SourceSafe Version 6.0b
Visual SourceSafe always gets kudos for its easy-to-use interface. The hierarchical project-based views are intuitive and provide a high level of navigability, and we mostly loved the Web site deployment features. We say mostly because one of those features is link verification (found only in Visual SourceSafe and SiberSafe), and we're of two minds as to its usefulness. Most corporations will deploy a content-management system, not a CVS, to manage their Web sites. On the other hand, a VCS could certainly be used for this purpose, and if you do buy Visual SourceSafe you'll get more than just the general storage of files.
Platform support is, of course, far more limited than that of Microsoft's competitors. Visual SourceSafe provides the best integration with Microsoft development products and offers extras such as COM (component object model) and scripting support for build-and-release management. Security is not as robust as that offered by Source Integrity -- we'd like to see not only the ability to import users from a domain, as is offered, but the ability to authenticate by domain as well.
Visual SourceSafe is one of the two products tested (the other is SiberSafe) that does not base its repository on RCS. We also noted during the installation that version 6.0b does not play nicely with version 5.0, so if you use that version, make sure to upgrade both the clients and the server.
Microsoft Visual SourceSafe 6.0b. Available: Now. Microsoft Corp., (425) 882-8080; fax (425) 936-7329. msdn.microsoft.com/ssafe