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December 05, 2003

Source Control

I think every developer has had her/his struggle with revision control systems over time. I have used most of them; rcs, cvs, ClearCase, Perforce, SourceSafe, with and without SourceOffSite, and StarTeam. For me the one that I liked most was StarTeam; Client/Server architecture, revision control combined with bug tracking and task management, and some discussion/annotation  facility. All integrated into one package, with very good performance. These days they are owned by Borland, but we used it when it was an independent company.

We used StarTeam at the technology transition company Robbert, Ken and I ran for a number of years, and when the company closed shop the software and licenses transferred to Cornell. We never upgraded the licenses to new releases as it was only a few of us using it and not even in a collaborative mode. More as a personal revision control system. It was a bit overkill but the alternatives were never appealing to me. I was never comfortable with the limitations of SourceSafe and I have recently tried Vault from SourceGear, but feel that their interface functionality is still too close to the original SourceSafe for me to be truly  happy with it.  And switching back to CVS, which has now become a viable option under windows, was neither an option because I seriously dislike the GUI interface of wincvs.

I am starting a new collaboration with people outside of Cornell and the obvious question comes up what tto do for revision control. Handing out Starteam is not realistic, so I needed an alternative. Surprisingly I have come full circle and have come back to CVS, after I discovered the SmartCVS client developed by Thomas Singer. SmartCVS is available for Windows and MacOS X  and is based Netbean's javacvs-library. There is a freely available 'Foundation' version and a 'Professional' version for $45 ($25 academic).  Both versions have all the right basic features including built-in shh1& ssh2, etc. The additional features in the professional are excellent and this software is definitely worth an extra $45. The server side is well established around here with internal servers and outside the firewall collaborative servers. So SmartCVS is for the time being my Revision Control System of choice.

Posted by Werner Vogels at December 5, 2003 04:39 PM


$0.02: Wanna have a special "fingernails on blackboard" experience try IBM's CMVC.

Posted by: Mad William Flint on December 5, 2003 05:53 PM

I didn't try SmartCVS yet but in our company we decided to use, liked it a lot, very nice integration into Windows explorer. We are now migrating to Subversion ( instead of CVS, because of shortcomings in CVS (no renaming support, no moving, no directory support, no atomic commits) and using TortoiseSVN ( on top of it.

Posted by: Martijn van Berkum on December 7, 2003 09:34 AM

Check out Perforce. We're very happy with it over the likes of CVS. Can't say how it compares to Subversion though, which I've never tried.

Posted by: tewes on December 7, 2003 02:46 PM

Check out Perforce. We're very happy with it over the likes of CVS. Can't say how it compares to Subversion though, which I've never tried.

Posted by: tewes on December 7, 2003 02:46 PM

We ran into the same challenges as you did a few years ago. We were (still are) a small team working between Washington State and Poland. We decided to develop our own version control system since no others fit the bill. We required distributed support, simple-set up, no server etc... Our product, Code Co-op, is now in it's 6th year and going strong. I'd be curious to hear your feedback on our product given your diverse usage of these systems.

Posted by: debra Ehrlich on February 9, 2004 05:56 PM