Many development teams still regularly use Visual SourceSafe for their source control which can stimulate heated debates between those that have used it for many years without problems and those that have suffered some pain with it. Regardless of this debate there is no denying that SourceSafe is coming to the end of it’s useful life. It’s old technology and will come out of support in 2011, although a compatibility update is expected with Visual Studio 2010.
When Microsoft developed it’s replacement, Team Foundation Server (TFS), it focused on providing more than just a source control product but a whole development lifecycle management system. Regardless of the benefits of TFS (and there are many) it has been avoided by many small development teams due to its high costs and complex installation/management. Many have instead moved to alternative source control products such as the free Subversion, leading to a decline in Microsoft’s market share in this area.
So, what’s changed? Microsoft now plan to provide a ‘Basic’ version of TFS 2010 when it ships next year. I think that this is a huge step forward for TFS and it’s take up across the development community. Brian Harry details the ‘Basic’ version in this blog post. This version of TFS will have a fast and easy installation and provides many more implementation options for the product. It will install on SQL Express 2008 and can even be installed on Client Windows Operating Systems. This really is targeting the current SourceSafe users and provides a low cost (perhaps even free) entry to the benefits of TFS. You might think that this would only provide basic TFS functionality but no so. Included in the basic version is Source Control, Bug Tracking and Build Automation, which provide the bulk of the key TFS features. The screenshots also suggest that Web Access is also included. What’s not included is Report Services and SharePoint, which are arguably more geared towards the larger development teams anyway. The key benefits from TFS come from the Work Item interaction and ‘Continuous Integration’ friendly automated build features and these are included.
The move to TFS for a SourceSafe (or any other simple source control system) team will provide many benefits and this version should enable those benefits at a minimal cost. There are no details on pricing but personally I would expect it to be included in the Team Developer MSDN subscription.
SourceSafe is also used by hobbyist and professional developers to manage their own personal source code and I see this version of TFS being ideal for this. The ability to install on a client OS is a major factor to these users. There is also a comment on Brian’s blog post about running TFS basic on Windows Home Server which is something I am keen to try out.
By allowing more people to access this great product it will greatly contribute to the TFS community and it’s take up globally. If you can’t wait until TFS 2010 is released and would like to know more about TFS versus SourceSafe in terms of pricing then check out Eric Nelson’s post here.