Integrated Development Environment (IDE) Integration


Microsoft Corporation

Updated 1997

Microsoft® Visual SourceSafe™ version control software provides integration with the Microsoft Visual Basic® (Enterprise and Professional editions) programming system and with the Microsoft Developer Studio®, so you can enjoy the advantages of source code control—team coordination and version tracking—without having to leave your IDE.

Visual SourceSafe and Visual Basic

Visual Basic is rapidly moving from being a simple stand-alone development tool to being a powerful client-server corporate application development environment. New needs come with that growth: the need to coordinate large teams of programmers working together and the need to track Visual Basic code like any other mission-critical data that runs a company, in short, the need for version control.

At the same time, Visual Basic has built its reputation around an interface which is easy to learn and easy to use. If version control adds a new burden to developers, many of them simply will not use it and there will be no benefits at all! That's why checking forms in and out of Visual SourceSafe has to be just as easy as modifying those forms in Visual Basic. And that's why Visual SourceSafe 4.0 integrates directly into the Visual Basic IDE.

Figure 1. SourceSafe integrated into Visual Basic

Without leaving Visual Basic, you can check a form out, modify that form, and check it back in. Without ever looking at the Visual SourceSafe Explorer, you can view the changes you made to a form, the history of a basic module, or even see a list of all the projects that are sharing a VISUAL BASIC class. And if you check out a .FRM file, the .FRX file "tags along" automatically, so just as always, you don't need to worry about it.

Of course, the Visual SourceSafe Explorer is still available for advanced features such as branching and merging. But most users will never have to leave Visual Basic to enjoy all the benefits of coordinated team development and version tracking.

Visual SourceSafe and Microsoft Developer Studio

The Microsoft Developer Studio is the new IDE that combines award-winning products such as Visual C++®, Visual Test, and Microsoft Fortran PowerStation. Users of these products not only enjoy the fastest path to Windows® development, powerful automated testing, and Microsoft technical information—they also have the benefit of using all these products inside one integrated shell. And now, with Visual SourceSafe 4.0, the ability to check your source files in and out is literally "at your fingertips" in the same common shell!

Figure 2. Visual SourceSafe integrated into the Developer Studio

As an example, imagine running the Visual C++ debugger to track down a problem reported by a tester or customer. You pull down the Tools menu, choose Get from SourceControl, and get all the files in the project, just to make sure you are up-to-date with everyone's changes. Then you debug and find the problem. You right-click on the file and choose Check Out to tell Visual SourceSafe you will be making changes. You edit the file, fix the problem, and use the right mouse button again to choose Check In and publish your changes for the rest of the group.

But why was this problem not caught? Switching to Microsoft Visual Test, you use the Visual SourceSafe Get command again to get the test scripts, and discover a missing test case. So you create the new test case and add it to Visual SourceSafe, along with a comment explaining the bug that this test will trap. During this entire session, you have not left the Developer Studio window.

Visual SourceSafe 4.0 integrates with the Developer Studio and with Visual Basic 4.0 Professional and Enterprise editions. Visual SourceSafe is not a part of most of these products (it is a part of Visual Basic Enterprise Edition), and must be acquired separately. Visual SourceSafe can also be used with many other development environments, including (but not limited to) the Microsoft Visual FoxPro® database management system and Microsoft Office, by performing all Visual SourceSafe commands directly in the Visual SourceSafe Explorer.

Visual SourceSafe and Visual FoxPro

Microsoft FoxPro has long been recognized as the fastest, most powerful database development tool. With Visual FoxPro 3.0 developers could tap into the versatility of Object Oriented programming and client-server functionality. Now Visual FoxPro 5.0 adds yet another dimension that developers have requested—team based application development.

With just a few mouse clicks, a developer can join a multideveloper project and from then on, all changes, whether they add files to the project or modify existing files, can be coordinated from within the Visual FoxPro IDE.

Figure 3. Visual SourceSafe integrated into Visual FoxPro

In a team environment, having a project—a .PJX in FoxPro terminology—under SourceSafe control means that:

  • All developers on the team can add files to, or remove them from, the PJX. By choosing Update Project List from the project menu, a developer both makes any changes he or she has made to the PJX available to all the other developers on the team and receives an updated version of the project, reflecting changes other developers have made
  • **Two or more developers can work on the same program (PRG) simultaneously.****If, for example, two developers have checked out the same program, and both have modified it, unaware of each other's changes, Visual SourceSafe will alert the one who checks in the program last, prompting him or her to resolve any conflicts between the different versions.

Of course team development is just one of the many uses of SourceSafe integration. If you are an individual developer you will want to take advantage of other features including:

  • Maintaining a history of files, so you can compare the current version of a file with previous versions.
  • Labeling Projects enables you to take a snapshot of a project at a given stage in the development cycle and give it a meaningful name (foe example, "Beta 1") before you continue development.
  • Sharing files means that if you have a file containing commonly used routines that you include in multiple projects (typically known as a library or procedure file), changes made in any copy of that file are automatically propagated to all other copies.

Users who worked with previous versions of FoxPro and SourceSafe will appreciate the ease of use presented by the integration, from the glyphs in the Project Manager that represent the status of files under SourceSafe control to the automatic checkout of .FRT and .SCT files when the corresponding .FRX or .SCX files are checked out.

Whether you're an independent developer working alone, or a member of a development team in a large corporation, SourceSafe integration with Visual FoxPro 5.0 can help make your development cycle easier to manage.

Visual SourceSafe and Microsoft Access

The Microsoft Office 97, Developer Edition Tools (ODE Tools) provides a software component that integrates various source code control products (including Visual SourceSafe) into Microsoft Access. Because this component writes to the standard source code control interface, ODE Tools users can use any source code control product that supports the interface. (The SourceSafe team designed these interfaces and has shared them with other companies to incorporate in their products.) By integrating source code control into Microsoft Access 97, you can now work with a team of developers to build a Microsoft Access application. You can:

  • See which objects are checked out.
  • Check out an object to control changes to it.
  • Check in an object so other developers can get your changes.
  • View a history of changes for each object or the entire database.
  • Visually compare differences between versions of an object.
  • Version objects and revert to a previous version of an object (even deleted objects).
  • Merge differences in different versions of an object.
  • Easily add new developers to your team who sync to the latest versions of all objects.

The software component communicates with both Microsoft Access 97 and the source code control application. While you work with Microsoft Access 97, the add-in steps in at various points and lets you do things like add, check out, or check Microsoft Access objects into the source code control project. Source code control integration with Microsoft Access is very similar to source code control integration with Visual Basic.