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Code Co-op Version Control Software from Reliable Software
Version control: We all need it
By: Selene Bainum
May. 11, 2004 12:00 AM
Question: Who needs version control? Answer: Every developer. Most people think of versioning control software as something that should be left to big companies and large teams. However, version control is a good idea for everyone.
Even if you are working on an application by yourself, it is too easy to lose important changes forever, because you accidentally saved over a document. Not to mention how nice it would be to go back to see an earlier version of a file. Besides, how many files can you have in your directory that end in "_backup.cfm" or ".old"?
There are several major benefits to version control software, for teams that range in size from 1 to 100: retaining a history of files; being able to roll back an earlier version of a file; marking or labeling a set of files for a particular release; ensuring a file is being worked on only by one person at a time; and keeping track of who did what.
Comparing the Options
Code Co-op, from Reliable Software, is a lower-cost version control software, that they refer to as "The Peer-to-Peer Version Control Software System for Distributed Teams." The comparison matrix between Code Co-op, VSS, and CVS certainly shows that Code Co-op is not short on features. All the things that you expect to see are there: integration using SCC API, support of all file types, parallel development, visual differencing, merging, restoring from file history, reporting, branching, and change notification. You can even collaborate with your team through e-mail. However, Code Co-op runs only on Windows-based systems so Unix/Linux users will have to stick with CVS.
From my experience with development teams, there are several ways to organize code:
Each member of the team has a copy of the code base on his or her computer. Code Co-op controls the properties of the files (read-only versus writable) on that computer only. When a developer wants to make changes, he or she checks the file(s) out and gets to work. After files are checked back in, synching scripts will be sent to the other members of the project. Those members can then view the changes, accept/reject them, and merge them into their files. The only way to have a centralized code base is to install Code Co-op on another machine (such as a development/staging server) and have it act as an observer to automatically accept all scripts. That way there is a set of code that can be backed up or used as a way for anyone to access the code from a centralized location.
Distributed Code Base Model
There are drawbacks to this model as well, the largest being that there is no way to see an overall project snapshot. Records of a developer having a file checked out is only on their machine, there is no centralized reporting - though Reliable Software hopes to add that feature to the next version. Reliable Software touts the absence of an application database on its comparison matrix as an advantage to both VSS and CVS; however, that is a matter of opinion. A centralized database/administration tool gives you that project snapshot as well as many other features. Users are not tied to a computer, as you can usually log in from any computer with the source control software installed, and you aren't at a loss when the project administrator's computer fails along with all the project information.
User Experience While Code Co-op is less expensive than products like VSS, you would expect a better user interface for $159. The interface has the feel of a shareware application as opposed to a commercial product that is aiming to play with the big boys. For instance, there are three ways to perform actions: using a pull-down menu, using the menu bar buttons, and right-clicking on an item and selecting an option. However, the options available differ among the three ways to access them, making it difficult to know exactly how to perform a particular action. The feature set is solid; you just have to learn how to use it.
The company also provides an e-mail address directly to their support team. The responses feel helpful and informal, letting you know that the people developing this product are on the same level as you, which is a nice feeling.
Is Code Co-op Right for You?
VitalsCode Co-op: Peer-to-Peer Version Control Reliable Software
1011 Boren Avenue PMB 206
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: (206) 361-6679
Web: www. relisoft.com
Pricing: $159/seat for 1-10 seats; $125/seat after 10. There is also a 31-day free evaluation and reduced upgrade prices.
Product Snapshot Target Audience: Developers looking at good entry-level versioning control software that has most of the features of other packages with a lower cost and free support options, yet don't require a centralized application database or project administration.
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