On Source Control

A mention today from Jamie Thomson in his blog on source control. I left a comment, but it was long, so I thought I’d repost it here.

My comment

Thanks for the note, Jamie, and it’s interesting, but I don’t see any respondents that aren’t using VSC. I’m guessing many people don’t want to admit that.

I use source control, sort of. I don’t have a lot of production code, mostly demo stuff, which doesn’t change so much as gets scrapped and restarted. However I am using Subversion (Turtle interface) with Red Gate’s SQL Source Control (of course).

Why? Well, since I have a 1:1 with my boss today, I should mention Red Gate makes a fantastic product that I couldn’t do without. Actually I think I’m bound to use it since I work for Red gate, but even if I didn’t, it makes things easier.

I built this habit at a startup, with Visual SourceSafe, and 6 months of browbeating developers to actually check out code from VSS, do a File | Open in Enterprise Manager (SQL 2k at the time), make changes, save the code, and check it back in. It can be done manually, and should, but there are tools like Red Gate’s products that make it easier.

I know lots of people just edit code in SSMS/VS without controlling it, and that’s a mistake if you are trying to work in a team environment, and product quality software. I haven’t had to roll back often, but there are times we have needed to, and not having control was an issue.

As an anecdote, I had a job once, waaaayyy back in the last century, using SQL 6.5. The developers had done a great job of using source control for all ASP, VB6, and SQL code. The problem was that they had checked out the code, saved it locally, copied it to another folder, and then checked it in. Then they might check back in the original script that was checked out. Or they might check the original back in and forget the modified version. Or they might not check anything in.

We found 3, 4, even 7 copies of some stored procedures on various desktops and shared drives, and they had decided to encrypt all the code on the SQL Server. We were never quite sure what version was deployed where, and deployments of the "latest" versions from VSC broke functionality.

We ended up decrypting all code, and reloading it into VCS, while removing all copies of local storage. It isn’t enough just to use source control or implement something; you need to understand what you are doing and do it consistently. Tools help here, so please use something.

A Couple More Thoughts

Source control is insurance. It’s risk reduction, but something that most people don’t understand or think they need. They may not. If you never have a server crash, or a hack of your data, then you don’t need backups. However most people wouldn’t want to run their systems, especially the ones they care about, without backups.

It’s the same with source control. Use something to provide yourself with a fallback if you have issues.

It’s not hard, there are lots of tools out there, and they make it easy to conform to some process. You can use SQL Source Control or SQL Connect from my company, or use something else, but integrate your database code with source control.

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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