Microsoft's Visual SourceSafe Roadmap


ByDave Goodall

What's in store for SourceSafe?

The current Visual SourceSafe version is 6.0d, released with Visual Studio .NET 2003.

Since Microsoft's announcement that the Visual Studio Team Foundation configuration management suite will be based on the heavy duty SQL Server based version control system codenamed 'Hatteras', I've recieved quite a few emails asking if SourceSafe is on Microsoft's retirement rachet.

The future of SourceSafe

The official word from Microsoft on the future of SourceSafe is contained in the Microsoft Visual SourceSafe Roadmap posted May 2004. And what this says is that :

*'Microsoft is updating the version control technology of Visual SourceSafe. A new product release with a continued focus on version control, Visual SourceSafe 2005, will update and improve this popular system. For individual developers or small teams who need a lightweight, client-only, file server application for source code control only, Microsoft will continue to enhance and support Visual SourceSafe.'

*'The upcoming release of Visual SourceSafe, arriving in 2005, will continue to be well-suited for individual developers and small teams.'

*'Teams ... that require a broader set of software development life-cycle tools or software configuration management tools may wish to consider the Visual Studio Team Foundation system as an alternative.'

Now this is a very clear statement of intention that Microsoft have no intention of ceding the product space for stand-alone source code version control for small teams.

In fact they need to continue to support and enhance SourceSafe to protect their market share in the stand-alone space from the likes of SubVersion.

Even more importantly they need to do this to prevent erosion in their base of corporate SourceSafe customers wbo use version control in a more sophisticated way as a base for higher level work flow and change management tools.

How SourceSafe relates to Team Foundation Server

Because the version control system is such a fundamental building block those customers will likely be dealing with conversions of the order of 100,000 plus files running into the tens of Gigabytes, and tied in all sorts of ways to deeply embedded internal processes. Another way of putting this is that the conversion effort is likely to be high. The Configuration Managers involved are likely to be required to evaluate alternate vendor systems to justify the costs.

Microsoft's problem is to transition those development process oriented corporate customers to the new Team Foundation Server product without losing too many along the way to vendors offering high level work flow tools. The techniques for doing this are traditional, going back to the trojan war, and Microsoft are well versed in them.

Expect new SourceSafe features to be tied more or less directly to the upcoming Visual Team architecture.

I expect differentiation in the market to sharpen between products offering work flow capabilities where the version control system is just a base building block for the higher level software development process tools, and version control systems providing just simple document archiving for small teams. The competition in the work flow space will become even more intense, and I would expect some consolidation to occur there. Configuration Managers can anticipate some keen bidding on their conversion projects.

SourceSafe will not be a contender as a base layer component in tbe work flow product space. It simply is not robust enough. However I expect it to continue to flourish in both the stand-alone market and the corporate market for a good few years yet.

Visual SourceSafe 2005

Visual SourceSafe 2005 is really SourceSafe 7.0, but those marketing types have to do something for a living. Unfortunately, the name change has contributed to the impression that SourceSafe is somehow about to disappear.

What's in it? New features include :

*Remote Web Access over HTTP
*Globalization : Regional time zones and languages
*Support for Custom Viewers, Merge Tools, and Editors
*.NET PIA automation
*Event driven process automation
*Unicode and XML Support
*SourceSafe Web Service Configuration

When evaluating the usefulness of these new features, be aware of collateral issues tying you in to a Team Foundation Server only migration path.

You can get more (but not much more) detail from the Microsoft Visual SourceSafe Roadmap document.

The best way to is to try it out for real.

Where can I get it?

The Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1 released on June 29, 2004 contains the SourceSafe 2005 Beta 1 as part of the main install. You can download the Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1 from here.

When can I get the real deal?

The best rumour I've heard is late 2004, probably based on the notion that the marketing team are following automobile industry practice.

The SourceSafe 2005 Team

The SourceSafe and Team Foundation Server teams have gone in for blogs in a big way.

Bookmark this link to the Visual SourceSafe 2005 Team blog.

Monitoring the blog is a good way to connect to upcoming developments, and also feedback your comments to the team.


Back to top | ZDS Home | This article updated July 8, 2004.