Using Visual SourceSafe - Several Important Concepts

This article is a part of SourceSafe / VSS Tutorial

Navigation links: VSS Database/Repository Master Copy and Local Copy

VSS Database/Repository

VSS database/repository is the central place where all files, history, project structures, permission and user information are stored. VSS database consists of hundreds of or even thousands of individual files with some strange names like aaaaaaa.a or baaaaaaa,a. The format of the VSS database is unknown to the public since Microsoft never published the format/specification.

Working Folder

Working folder is the specified corresponding folders on a user’s local computer used to store files when working with VSS projects. By default, the files are retrieved to the corresponding working folder when a user does Get or Check Out. A user can make changes to files in the working folder and then checks the modified files back into the VSS database for version tracking. Working folder is required for many VSS operations. For example, if a working folder is not set, when you do Get Latest Version, VSS will prompt you to set a working folder for the current VSS project or else the Get operation cannot continue.

Master Copy and Local Copy

A master copy is a copy of a file stored in a VSS database. A local copy is a copy of a file stored in your working folder on your local computer. The reason why the copy in VSS database is called a master copy is that the VSS database is the central point for file synchronization. After you make changes to your local copy, you need to check the file into the VSS database so that your team member can access the file content changed by you. You can do Get Latest Version to retrieve the latest version. More importantly, before making any changes, you need to Check Out the file first. The Check Out operation marks the file in the VSS database as checked out and retrieves the latest version to your local hard disk. Most version control systems have similar concepts with the ones in VSS.

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