New VSS Import Tool: Faster than Ever

SourceAnywhere

SQL server-based version control software. Supports integration with Visual Studio, Eclipse, Dreamweaver and other IDEs; cross-platform access; unique caching mechanism for remote performance.

It offers special optimizations for VSS users. Familiar UI and working style makes developers feel right at home, while Import Tool ensures effortless data migration from VSS.

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VSSImportTool New Design

During the past months, we received quite a few feedbacks regarding our VSS Import Tool. Knowing how important the history of source code in VSS and easy migration to SourceAnywhere means to our customers, we decided to improve the VSS Import Tool to better serve our users.

After several weeks’ effort, we finally worked out an impressive version. According to one of our users, “I’m very pleased by great acceleration of importing (from 10 days to 8 hours)”.

Main improvements of VSS Import Tool:

* Greatly fastened the import speed by introducing multi-threading technology
* Enabled users work normally while import is in the process. Users are able to access/edit the data once the latest versions of files/projects have been imported
* Added support of importing the data from the error point if the process fails
* Optimized the import of Label
* Optimized the project selection. Refreshing the projects is much faster now.

Background

Visual SourceSafe uses file system to store the source code, while Dynamsoft SourceAnywhere puts the data in SQL Server for enhanced security and integrity. With a VSS Import tool, users can easily migrate all their data histories from VSS to SourceAnywhere.

The pain is that, most users have been using VSS for many years and have quite large VSS DBs. Plus, VSS API doesn’t provide full interfaces to interact with VSS database. So migration away from Visual SourceSafe in an accurate and fast way is not easy.

The previous versions of SourceAnywhere offered a VSS Import Tool, but the old version has its glitches. Our team decided to re-design VSS Import tool for a better user experience.

Problems in the old version of VSS Import tool

1. The “label” import was not so smooth. Too much time is spent on importing the labels and this process has a high error probability. Usually there are many labels in a VSS database.

2. The tool is single threaded, so it cannot take advantage of multi-CPU systems.

3. The import can be time-consuming sometimes for a big VSS DB. And users can only start using/evaluating SourceAnywhere after the whole import process is done.

4. Once an error occurs during the import, the whole process needs to be started from scratch.

SourceAnywhere features:

1. Data is compressed before storing in SQL Server.

2. SourceAnywhere calculates the data delta and performs compression before checking-in data to the SQL Server.

3. In SQL Server, item histories (table) and file content (table) are in reference relationship. They are stored separately so the content of files can be updated separately.

4. When performing Check In or Check Out on the latest version of an item, only the content of the latest version and the nearest full version (Full version is in contrast to Delta. Every several versions, a full version is created as a base. Latest version = nearest full version + delta.) are needed.

5. Label, as a tag/collection on the existing histories, doesn’t modify any items. Thus it doesn’t affect user operations.

In view of above considerations, we redesign the import tool in the new version.

Import Steps

The new VSS import tool separates the whole import process into 5 modules. Each module uses a separate thread.

(modules in VSS import tool)

1. Import Monitor: Monitors the whole import process and lists the ongoing steps and their statuses. A dialog box prompts to notify the user a successful import.

2. Import Item: Imports anything about an item (name, location in a project tree, history version info, etc.) but the label/pin info and file content. A corresponding Import File Content (Module 3) thread will be fired once an item is imported. This way, items and file content can be imported simultaneously. A new import process is needed if crash, cancel or fatal error occurs during this step.

3. Import File Content: Imports the content of all files. This step runs in two concurrent threads.

First the module scans for items that have been imported and then starts importing the according file content.

The content import consists of the following 4 parts in sequence: import the latest version of an item; import the nearest full version; scan and see if there are any items that are ready (If yes, import their latest versions and according full versions. Otherwise, continue to the next part.); import the old versions of items.
four parts in Import File Content

(Steps in Import File Content)

Once an item’s nearest full version is imported successfully, you can perform version control operations, such as Check Out, Get, Check In, Undo Check out, on its latest version.

If your machine doesn’t have enough resources to run 2 concurrent threads, you can cancel/pause the content import. It’ll be triggered automatically when there is another item imported or you can manually start the tool. Also, you don’t need to worry if some errors occur during the content import. With break-point transmission applied to the new design, restarting the import tool will restore to the last interruption point.

4. Import Pin: Imports all files’ Pin status. This step will take place only after Import File Content completes successfully. So if an error or a cancel occurs in this step, it will start from this step next time rather than importing all the content from the beginning. However, the status of the current step won’t be kept. Thus, you may find error messages in the log file saying some Pin statuses have already been imported but it’s OK.

5. Import Label: Imports selected Labels. Arriving here, you can begin using SourceAnywhere at ease since Label won’t update existing items in the repository. You can select the labels to be imported or the tool will import all the labels by default. You can click Pause or Cancel during the process and re-select the labels. Interruptions during the Label import can only be restored to the beginning of this part. This case, you may find errors like the label already exists but it’s fine.

You can click “Complete” button to finish the whole import.

Import Selected SourceSafe Projects

With previous versions of VSS Import Tool, during the initialization of Select SourceSafe project, the whole directory tree will be displayed before you’re able to perform the next step. When the directory tree is large, the process can be really time-consuming. You have to wait for the whole directory tree to be listed even when you only want to import $/ or a subdirectory under $/. Obviously, the old design is inconvenient and not so user friendly.

In the new version, the operation of unfolding directory tree is performed in a separate thread. The directory tree is expanded layer by layer. First it expands the subfolders under $/ and then expands each subfolder recursively. This way, it’ll be much faster for users to select $/ or a subfolder under $/. Once a directory is selected, you can carry on importing without further waiting and the thread listing the directory tree will be ceased automatically.

Using Visual SourceSafe – How to version control SQL Server Stored Procedures with Visual Studio 2003

This article is a part of SourceSafe / VSS Tutorial

SQL Server stored procedures can be added to Visual SourceSafe (VSS) for version control by using the source control feature in Visual Studio .NET 2003.

 

To add SQL Server stored procedures to VSS, please follow the steps below:

1. Verify that SQL Server is running under a domain account and the current log on user of SQL Server has read & write rights to the VSS Database folder. We can check this by right-clicking My Computer, and then clicking Manage -> Services and Applications -> Services. In the service list, right-click MSSQLSEVER and click Properties -> Log On tab.

SQL Server Log On user
(SQL Server Log On user)

 

2. Install Visual SourceSafe on the SQL Server machine.

3. Install Visual Studio .NET server components on the computer running SQL Server. During the installation, please check the VS 6 Stored Procedure Version Control option under Server Components.

Visual Studio .net 2003 Setup
(Visual Studio .net 2003 Setup)

 

4. Start Visual Studio .NET, click menu Tools -> Options -> Database Tools -> Server Explorer, and check Enable version control under Stored Procedures.

Enable Version Control
(Enable Version Control)

 

5. Open the Server Explorer pane by clicking menu View -> Server Explorer, and then expand to the Stored Procedures folder.

6. Right-click the Stored Procedures folder, and click Add to Source Control.

Add to Source Control
(Add to Source Control)

 

7. The Enable Source Control dialog box prompts out. We need to input the VSS database location and project name here. Please note that we do not need to use the “$/” prefix in the Source Control Project Name text box. Visual Studio .NET adds “$/” automatically. For example, if the project name in VSS database is “sql_2000”, we should input “sql_2000” rather than “$/sql_2000”.

Enable Source Control
(Enable Source Control)

 

8. In the Source Control Login dialog box, type the VSS Login ID and the Password, and then click OK.

Source Control Login
(Source Control Login)

 

9. We can now add stored procedures into source control of SourceSafe by right-clicking on the stored procedure files and selecting Add to Source Control. There will be lock icons on the left side of the stored procedure files denoting the files are in source control, as shown in the following screenshot:

Lock Icon
(Lock Icon)

 

And we will see the stored procedure files in SourceSafe Explorer:

VSS Explorer
(VSS Explorer)

 

10. After all the steps above were done, we will be able to find the SourceSafe options by right-clicking the stored procedure files in the Server Explorer pane.

Source Control Operations
(Source Control Operations)

 

For information on how to source control SQL Server objects in SQL Server Management Studio 2005/2008, please refer to my other articles: Integrating SourceSafe / VSS with SQL Server 2005 and Integrating SourceSafe / VSS with SQL Server 2008.

 

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Using Visual SourceSafe – How to Manage Security

This article is a part of SourceSafe / VSS Tutorial

Introduction

SourceSafe provides a tool, Visual SourceSafe Administrator, to manage the permission of the VSS users.

However, designed for trusted environment, SourceSafe offers very low security. Regardless of the VSS project level permission, all VSS users must have read & write permission of the whole VSS folder from the file system. This means even for a VSS user who only has read permission of a single file in VSS database, he/she can copy or even delete the whole VSS database from the file system

Furthermore, if we have remote SourceSafe users, we need to expose our whole VSS database folder from the file system level, which makes our source code vulnerable to outside hackers.

There is no easy way to solve this security vulnerability since VSS is designed that way. One possible option is to use an add-on tool to convert VSS from a file based system to a client/server architecture based system. A tool I developed, called SourceAnywhere for VSS, can do this job. The link for SourceAnywhere for VSS is:
http://www.dynamsoft.com/Products/SAW_Overview.aspx

The project level security mechanism in VSS can only prevent unintended changes. If you are still interested in learning more about how to set the project level securities in VSS, you can read more about it below. 🙂

 

Managing project level security

To manage the project rights for an individual command for each user, we can follow the steps below:

1. Open Visual SourceSafe Administrator program.

2. Check the Enable Rights and Assignments commands box in the Visual SourceSafe Administrator menu Tools -> Options -> Project Rights tab. In the New User Rights area of the Project Rights tab, we can deselect the project rights that do not apply to any database users.

SourceSafe Options
(SourceSafe Options)

 

3. Now there are 3 rights commands available on the Tools menu: Rights by Project, Rights Assignments for User and Copy User Rights.

 

To assign project rights from the project list:

1. In Visual SourceSafe Administrator, click Tools -> Rights by Project.

2. In the Project Rights dialog box, select a project and click Add User to attach the user for whom to assign project rights.

Project Rights
(Project Rights)

 

3. Select a user in the user list. Under User rights, specify the permissions.

 

To assign project rights from the user list:

1. In Visual SourceSafe Administrator, select a user in the users list, and click Tool -> Rights Assignments for User.

2. In the Assignments for dialog box, click Add Assignment.

Assignments for <user>
(Assignments for )

 

3. Select a Visual SourceSafe project and then specify permissions for the user on the selected project. Please be advised that a user must have the Destroy project right to deploy a Web site.

Add Assignment for <user>
(Add Assignment for )

 

To copy one’s user rights to another user:

1. In Visual SourceSafe Administrator, click the user whose project rights you want to modify in the users list.

2. Click menu Tools -> Copy User Rights. The Copy Rights Assignments to dialog box prompts out.

Copy Rights Assignment to Test
(Copy Rights Assignment to Test)

3. Select a user from whom to copy rights, and then click Copy.

 

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Using Visual SourceSafe – Show History

This article is a part of SourceSafe / VSS Tutorial

Show History Basics

Show History is one of the most important features in SourceSafe. My personal feeling is that being able to go back to the pervious versions is the main purpose that software development teams use version control tools. It gives us peace of mind when we implement new features and fix bugs.

The Show History command in SourceSafe allows us to view the history information of a file/project by listing all the versions of an item from the latest version to the creation of the item. In the History Explorer, we can see the version number of the item, the user who performed the action, the date/time of the event and the action. We can also perform operations like Get, View, Pin on a specific version of the item and rollback a file to an old version.

Many developers only use the History Explorer to view a previous version or do diff and may not know many useful features of the History Explorer. I am listing some of the features in the following section and hope you will find it useful.

 

How to view the history of an item

To view history of a file/project, we can click Show History under the Tools menu or from the right-click menu of the item, set history options in the following dialog box and then the history explorer will appear listing all the historical information of the item.

 

History Explorer

File History Explorer
(File History Explorer)

 

Get an old version of a file/project

Sometimes we may want to retrieve an old version of a file or project. We can do that through history explorer. Select the version of the file/project we would like to retrieve and click Get.

Get a version of a file/project by label

Label is a good way to manage version release/builds. For more information, see Label. VSS also provides the feature to get an item by label. If we check Include Labels option in the History Options dialog box, we will see all the labels that have been assigned to the item in the Action column of history explorer. Simply selecting the labeled version and clicking Get will get the labeled version to the local drive.

Diff two versions of a file

In history explorer, we can also compare two versions of a file. To do that, we can select two versions of the file and click Diff. For more information, see File Diff.

Pin an old version of a file

If we want our team members to get a specific historical version of a file by default, we can pin the file to that version by selecting the version in the history explorer, and clicking Pin. For more information, see Pin.

Rollback to an old version of a file

We can use the Rollback feature to return a file to an old version and erase all the newer versions . If the file is shared among several projects, Rollback will only affect the current project. It breaks the file in the current project from that in the other projects. To rollback to an old version, we can select the version we want to rollback to and click Rollback in the history explorer.

Change label & comment

We may want to change the label/comment of an item in some situations. We can do it through history explorer too. Select the item version from the history explorer, click the Details button and then we can change label and comment in the History Details dialog box.

History Details
(History Details)

 

History report

We can report the history information of an item to a printer, file or clipboard by clicking Report button in the history explorer. Checking Include details can include more detailed information, like comments in the report. Checking Include differences can include the differences between versions in the report.

History Report
(History Report)

 

Share an old version of project

In the project history explorer, we can select a version of the project and click Share to share this version of the project with other project.

Project History Explorer
(Project History Explorer)

 

History Share
(History Share)

 

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Using Visual SourceSafe – Pin

This article is a part of SourceSafe / VSS Tutorial

Pin is a small but sometimes helpful feature in Visual SourceSafe (VSS). VSS defines Pin as a marker that designates a specific version of a file. For example, if we want our team members to get a historical version by default, we can pin the file to the specific version.

Pin is not a native feature in SourceSafe. I usually do not use Pin very often and my personal recommendation is that we should avoid Pin if possible.

 

Pin has the following features:

  • When we do Get Latest, for a pinned file, VSS retrieves the pinned version, not the latest version.
  • We can still get the other versions in the Show History dialog box.
  • After a file is pinned, the file cannot be modified. We cannot do Check In / Check Out on a pinned file.

To pin a version of a file, please follow steps below:

1. In Visual SourceSafe (VSS) Explorer, select the file that you want to pin.

2. On the menu Tools, click Show History, as seen in the following screen shot:

Show History
(Show History)

 

Or right-click the file that you want to pin, and select Show History.

Show History
(Show History)

 

3. In the History Options dialog box, click OK.

History Options
(History Options)

 

4. In the History of dialog box, select the version that you want to pin, and then click Pin. A pushpin icon will appear next to the pinned file.

Pin
(Pin)

 

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Using Visual SourceSafe – A Free Tool to Manage the MSSCCI Provider

This article is a part of SourceSafe / VSS Tutorial

Dynamsoft provides a tool called SCC Provider Manager with its SourceAnywhere source control product family. With this tool, you can choose one of the SCC providers in your system as the default provider. This is a screen shot of the tool:

 

SCC Provider Manager
(SCC Provider Manager)

 

With the permission of the company, I am posting the source code and the executable file here. The project was developed with Visual C++ 2003. Download SCC Provider Manager.

 

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Using Visual SourceSafe – How to backup & restore VSS DB

This article is a part of SourceSafe / VSS Tutorial

SourceSafe provides an Archive utility, with which we can periodically backup our VSS Database or projects and transport files/projects between SourceSafe databases. SourceSafe also provides a Restore tool which allows us to restore the data from an archive.

  • How to archive SourceSafe database
  • How to restore SourceSafe database

 

To archive a SourceSafe database:

1. First, make sure no one is using the database we are going to archive or the Analyze utility will not run during the process of archive.

2. Open the database in SourceSafe Administrator and start the Archive Wizard through menu Archive -> Archive Projects.

3. Choose the project to archive from the project list.

Choose project to archive
(Choose project to archive)

 

4. Click Add to add more projects we would like to archive and then click Next.

Add projects you would like to archive
(Add projects you would like to archive)

 

5. Specify a name for the archive file.

Specify name for the archive file
(Specify name for the archive file)

 

6. Specify the version range of the project to archive. We may choose to archive all of the data or archive the data older than a specific version.

Specify the version range to archive
(Specify the version range to archive)

 

7. Click Finish and SourceSafe will archive the projects to an .ssa file.

 

To restore the projects from an archive file:

1. Start the Restore Wizard through SourceSafe Administrator menu Archive -> Restore Projects.

2. Select the archive file that contains the projects we would like to restore.

Select archive file
(Select archive file)

 

3. Select the projects we want to restore to the database. We can check the Display subproject option to see all the subprojects.

Select projects to restore
(Select projects to restore)

 

4. Specify the destination to restore the project. We may restore the project to where it was archived from or to a different location.

Select restore destination
(Select restore destination)

 

5. After the restore operation is finish, we may log in SourceSafe to check if the projects we want have been properly restored.

 

Note: If we want to restore a complete backup of a VSS DB, it is recommended that we restore the backup to a new VSS database rather than an existing database.

 

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Using Visual SourceSafe – Integrating VSS with PowerBuilder

This article is a part of SourceSafe / VSS Tutorial

PowerBuilder was a popular tool for database front end development. I used PowerBuilder 6 about 10 years ago to develop a MIS (Management Information System) application. The tool was powerful but in the past 5 years, PowerBuilder lost its ground to Java, .NET and other web development languages (like PHP). Recent market surveys show that PowerBuilder is not in the top 5 anymore.

 

The source code control interface of PowerBuilder is compatible with Microsoft’s MSSCCI, so we can use Microsoft Visual SourceSafe (VSS) or other compatible software as the version control tool.

To integrate Visual SourceSafe (VSS) with PowerBuilder, we can follow the steps below:

1. Right-click the selected workspace, and select Properties, as seen in the following screen shot:

Properties of Workspace
(Properties of Workspace)

 

2. In Source Control tab, configure source control settings.

  • In the Source Control System dropdown list, select Microsoft Visual SourceSafe.
  • In User ID edit box, input the name of our VSS account.
  • In Project edit box, input the VSS project in which we want put the selected local project. We can click the browse button next to choose the VSS project. When we click the browse button, the Log On to Visual SourceSafe Database window will prompt, as seen in the following screen shot:

Log on to Visual SourceSafe Database
(Log on to Visual SourceSafe Database)

 

  • Log into the VSS database, and select a project to store the selected local project in the following screen shot.

Add to SourceSafe
(Add to SourceSafe)

 

  • Click OK to finish the workspace binding.

3. In PowerBuilder System Tree, right-click the selected workspace, and select Add to Source Control to bring up the Add to Source Control window.

Add to Source Control
(Add to Source Control)

 

4. Click OK to add the selected items to the VSS database.

5. Now the target project is source controlled by VSS. We can perform the basic source control operations, such as Get Latest Version, Check Out, Check In, Undo Check Out, Add to Source Control, Show Differences, Show History and so on.

Basic Source Control Operations
(Basic Source Control Operations)

 

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Using Visual SourceSafe – Integrating VSS with Visual Basic 6.0

This article is a part of SourceSafe / VSS Tutorial

SourceSafe can be integrated into Visual Basic 6.0 to source control the VB forms, modules, class modules, etc.

 

To integrate SourceSafe with VB 6.0, we can do as follows:

1. Choose SourceSafe as the current source control provider.
For information on how to do it, refer to: https://www.dynamsoft.com/codepool/microsoft-source-code-control-interface-msscci-registry-entries.html

2. Open VB 6.0 and check if the Source Code Control add-in is loaded through menu Add-Ins -> Add-In Manager.

If yes, we should be able to find the SourceSafe command under Tools menu.
If no, please edit the vbaddin.ini file by going to Start -> Run: vbaddin.ini and adding the line “vbscc=3 ” in the file.

 

3. Add the VB project into source control of SourceSafe by clicking menu Tools -> SourceSafe -> Add Project to SourceSafe.

Add VB Project to SourceSafe
(Add VB Project to SourceSafe)

 

4. In the following Log On to SourceSafe Database dialog box, enter the credentials to log on a VSS DB.

Log on to VSS Database
(Log on to VSS Database)

 

5. Choose a location in the VSS project tree to store the VB project.

Choose location to place the VB project
(Choose location to place the VB project)

 

6. Select the files we want to add into SourceSafe for source control and click OK.

Add VB files to SourceSafe
(Add VB files to SourceSafe)

 

7. Now, all of the files are under source control of SourceSafe. We can find the SourceSafe functions through menu Tools -> SourceSafe. We can also access some of the functions by right-clicking the file in the Project Explorer.

 

 

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Using Visual SourceSafe – Integrating VSS with Visual C++ 6.0

This article is a part of SourceSafe / VSS Tutorial

SourceSafe can be integrated into Visual C++ 6.0 to source control VC projects and files.

 

To integrate SourceSafe with VC 6.0, we can do as follows:

1. Choose SourceSafe as the current source control provider.
For information on how to do it, refer to: https://www.dynamsoft.com/codepool/microsoft-source-code-control-interface-msscci-registry-entries.html

2. Add the VC project into source control of SourceSafe by clicking menu Project -> Source Control -> Add to Source Control. We can also add the project by right-clicking the file in the Project Explorer.

Add VC project to SourceSafe from menu
(Add VC project to SourceSafe from menu)

 

Add VC project to SourceSafe
(Add VC project to SourceSafe)

 

3. In the following Log On to SourceSafe Database dialog box, enter the credentials to log on a VSS DB.

Log on to VSS Database
(Log on to VSS Database)

 

4. Choose a location in the VSS project tree to store the VC project.

Choose location to place the VC project
(Choose location to place the VC project)

 

5. Select the files we want to add into SourceSafe for source control and click OK.

Add VC files to SourceSafe
(Add VC files to SourceSafe)

 

6. Now, all of the files are under source control of SourceSafe. We can find the SourceSafe functions through menu Project -> Source Control. We can also access some of the functions by right-clicking the file in the Project Explorer.

 

 

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