Source Control: Do You Use It?

Hi gang! I’m kicking off a new blog category with this post. It’s called Real World Use, after the category we have in the Dreamweaver bugbase for issues that are found during normal use of the product (as opposed to those found during feature development or specific testing). This category will be a place for us to ask questions and get feedback about how you’re using Dreamweaver in the real world, and perhaps even a place to share some inside info about how we thought you’d use the features we developed.

Let’s get things started by talking about source/version control. Version control systems are absolutely vital to software development, and I think one could argue that they’re just as important to managing large websites. My question is: Do you use a version control system such as CVS, Subversion, SourceSafe, or Perforce with your site? If so, is your system integrated with Dreamweaver, or do you deal with the repository separately? Are all your web files under source control, or only some of them? What are your main reasons for using source control?

If you’re not using a source/version control system, why not? (I don’t use one on my personal site, for example, because I’m the only one working on the site, and the overhead of setting up a system outweighs any benefit I’d gain from it.) Is putting your site under source control on your to-do list, and you just haven’t gotten to it yet, or is it not even on your radar?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

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  • For all my DW projects I use a manual form of version control. At each significant stage of development or prior to attempting anything risky, I simply zip up the webroot and copy it to a ‘history’ folder. I maintain a history.html file where I note changes and link to the archive files.
    In my Flex work I’ve started using subversion with the subclipse plug-in. I’d really like to use the approach with my dreamweaver work. I could do it manually using command-line or SCPlugin, or indeed some other client – but subversion becomes really nice to use once integrated into the development tool. It would be great to see such integration for DreamWeaver.
    (I’m a Mac user by the way)

  • Using Subversion and CFEclipse. All files go into the repository unless they are dynamically generated by the system.
    I’d also recommend setting up version control for one-man projects. “the overhead of setting up a system outweighs any benefit I’d gain from it”
    It literally takes just minutes to download and setup SVN. You can easily make that time up the first time you erase an important file and easily recover it. The other thing it allows you to do is ‘tag’ your releases allowing you to easily roll back to a previous version.

  • Thanks for commenting, guys! Jim, you’re probably right that it’d be totally worth my while — as a Perforce user for non-web source code, I know how much I personally rely on the repository (especially the file history, which is so useful for figuring out when and how a file changed, and at whose hand).
    For my web site, like Paul I use my own system for version control, which currently involves site backups and lots of renaming files with _NEW and _OLD. 🙂

  • I don’t use version control but would like to ask, what version control tools are available that can be integrated with Dreamweaver?

  • After using sourcesafe for source control for a few months, I found out that I actually like more to make manual backup by zipping the whole projects and write a change log by myself 🙂

  • I use DW almost daily and I have to keep an Explorer window open so I can check code in and out. I wish Subversion was integrate with DW or there was a better plugin (the *one* out there isn’t that great). TortoiseSVN is my friend, at this moment.

  • Bob: I think there are a few, but I’ve only ever tried to install the SVN product from GraFX Software. I tried the demo version, and nothing actually installed, so I wasn’t able to test it out. :-/
    There also appears to be a free extension on the Exchange called SubWeaver that works with TortoiseSVN, but I haven’t tried it.

  • Thanks, everyone, for the info. I will look into the GraFX offering and the SubWeaver/TortoiseSVN also.

  • I don’t currently use version control, but I do plan on starting to use Subversion soon.
    Being a Mac user one obstacle is perhaps support inside Dreamweaver but there are plenty of tools to work with Subversion externally. This is fine as sometimes I work on code using TextMate or SubEthaEdit as well so an external SVN tool is probably fine. That said, I’m sure a lot of people would like to do it within DW like you can inside Eclipse / Aptana etc.

  • We use CVS where I am. While Subversion is definately more powerful, CVS was an easier sell to our development staff. A year into our project and we’ve got most of our folks using it religiously. This would be much easier if Dreamweaver had built in support, however.

  • Alain Laroche says:

    We tried several times without success to use version control on web projects after so good experiences with c++ code. I beleive that 2 relunctant problems should be solved for a new attempt:
    – the repository must be the production website source to avoid non control code update
    – the code formatting (html, php, js, css…) should be more permissive during the diff check
    For sure a full dreamweaver integration is essential.

  • Chris Dawes says:

    We use subversion (SVN), but have to use tortoise. It would be great to get SVN support in dreamweaver. There is an extension, but it’s no where near as good as the sourcesafe integration. This is a really big frustration as we use SVN to do releases of programming, design and other bits and pieces to production from test. It’s one of the biggest annoyances of using dreamweaver. We even moved to sourcesafe for a while as it was just easier, however there are catches even with that version that can result in overwrites of your code, so we switched back to SVN. Get and Put functionality for subversion would be _LEGENDARY_… please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please put it in there and please please please please please please can we be on the next beta if it is??!!

  • This is GREAT feedback guys, thanks so much! It affirms my belief that this blog is a good way to reach a wider range of Dreamweaver users than we can talk to in person—and we definitely want to know what’s important to web designers and developers NOW and what’s on your radar for the near future. (For this reason, you can expect more posts in the Real World Use category soon. 🙂
    In the meantime, if you haven’t gotten your two cents in on source control, add them now!

  • Hi Lori and DW Team,
    I’m using Perforce at work and subversion for personal stuff. I have to say I’m a bit torn on what I’d prefer. I certainly do more at work. Currently I ssh to my linux box and run Perforce by the command line. (I mount my linux home directory on my mac and edit files using DW) If I had in DW, it would save me a lot of time. SVN might be more popular though. Miss you all. 🙂

  • I mostly use SVN but some projects I touch use CVS. When I was at Adobe, I used Perforce. In all cases I used Eclipse because Dreamweaver has no support for source code control systems. The team’s I’ve worked with over the years have requested source code control support be added to Dreamweaver since DW2!

  • I don’t use source control on any of my sites as I’m the only one working in them.

  • Our firm uses Subversion. We use a hosted service and they provide us a simple web interface to administer repositories. Basically we just need integration for a repository URL and login info.

  • Some of you mentioned the SubWeaver extension earlier (I’m the developer). I’m interested in hearing feedback on it, so far I’ve been working on it pretty much by myself. It’s pretty rough still, but I’ve only been playing around with it for a couple weeks. If theres features you’d like to see that would make it more of a compelling solution for you, I’d be glad to try to work them in. Just swing by the project site and submit a feature request, or a bug report, or send me an email from the link there. Thanks!

  • John Nicholas says:

    Jumping in this thread late but I wanted just add some feedback. I am a long time Dreamweaver user but have been moving away from it recently simply because of the lack of subversion support.
    I am using PDT now for heavier PHP dev but still like DW for more graphical work and for letting the non-php parts of the team work on projects. Lately we’ve been moving to using Aptana just for the subversion support but I think everyone would rather use DW if they could without losing SVN.

  • We’re planning on starting some kind of version control soon — maybe Subversion and this extension for Dreamweaver:
    It would be a convenience, definitely, to have Subversion built into Dreamweaver. Check In / Check Out hasn’t worked well for me when I’ve tried it in a team environment. (It would say things were checked out when they weren’t, etc.)
    Thanks for asking for comments! Nice!

  • Thanks John, Jonah, and everyone else for chiming in — I’m definitely still reading the comments. 🙂
    @Sean: Dreamweaver does have support for Source Control systems. We added support for third-party source control plugins as well as a plugin specifically for SourceSafe in Dreamweaver MX, I believe.

  • SVN all the way. I’m currently using the svn4dw extension in DW8, but apparently that’s a dead end, so I’ve been hesitant to update to cs3. Making Subversion built-in is all that’s needed to make me upgrade.

  • Colin Woolmer says:

    I am grappling with this issue right now. I am a long time C++ C# user for large organisations so have always used version control. I am now working with graphic designers on a coperate web site who use DW CS3 on MAC. I have DW CS3 but on Windows. The code respository currently is SourceSafe which works great for me but the MAC version of CS3 does not support SourceSafe.
    Is there any solution available for me at all that would allow co-operation between Windows and MAC users in a single repository.
    I see mention of 3rd Party support. Is this also a feature on the MAC or only Windows. Can you give me a link for more info. It may be possible to hand craft something. But naturally it would be great if Adobe would just do it and save me the effort.

  • My firm has been using SourceSafe but is in the process of switching over to SVN. I’m primarily a content editor rather than full-blown web developer, so integration of SVN with Dreamweaver (in the same way that SourceSafe is integrated now) would definitely make me consider upgrading to a new version of Dreamweaver, although I can certainly live with Tortoise in the meantime.

  • I had used subversion with dreamwaver for years by now, and always wanted to have svn+dw integration. I once tried to do that, but my lack of C expertise stopped me.
    I think it would be not so difficult, and by having the CS3 integration with subversion it could even be marketed as Adobe Timeline or something like that

  • We are trying to get VSS working with Dreamweaver, with many issues.
    We need to be able to not only check in and out files, but label (tag) them within VSS and be able to store comments in VSS as well. This way we can package files together for staging and production. Being able to select a past version to branch directly out of DW would be excellent.

  • I always Use version control. Subversion is my preferred tool. Would love some intergration into CS3.

  • As a long time GoLive user, I am converting over to Dreamweaver CS3. With GoLIve I used Adobe Version Cue. Any reason why Adobe does not integrate this project with Dreamweaver? It would be great if Adobe would get this working before CS4

  • @Colin : I’d like to know the exact same thing
    Hi TJ and Colin—sorry for not responding earlier. We used to have SourceSafe support on the Mac, but it proved problematic, so we removed it. Dreamweaver’s Source Control API, however, is cross-platform. You can find more info about it here:

  • We use Seapine’s Surround SCM, it’s cross platform so the MAC developers can use as well as Windows. It has a lot of great out of the box features that make it a snap to get up and running and has built in Dreamweaver support. We also have some developers still on Homesite and Surround supports this to.
    Interesting! I hadn’t heard of Surround before. How does it integrate with Dreamweaver? — LoriHC

  • When you install Surround, there is an option to include a Dreamweaver extension. For homesite I’ve set it up to use the generic SCCI extension. They just shipped an update to Surround that has a bunch of new useful features too.
    Cool, thanks! — LoriHC

  • In Dreamweaver MX, I had subversion integrated via tortoise SVN and a simple dreamweaver add-on. I have CS3 now, but haven’t yet add this back in. I just did a search for it and found what I’m sure is the previous link for it.
    Unfortunately, this add-on is no longer available apparently, even though this link seems to indicated it. Too bad. It worked well for me in MX. And it was free. Please nearlygeek, bring it back!

  • Muhammad Asif says:

    I want to integrate Dreamweaver with Team Foundation Server. How I can do it with MSSCCI.

  • Does DWCS3 support Visual SourceSafe 2005?
    I believe the SourceSafe plugin is still in there on Windows; not sure about specific version support. – Lori

  • As a long time GoLive user, I too am trying to convert over to Dreamweaver CS3. With GoLIve I used Adobe Version Cue.
    I had to go back to golive because it dosen’t integraqte with version cue…

  • I use SVN, MacFusion/sshfs, and have been using Dreamweaver since v.2.0, although I’m starting to use vim now more and more. I don’t understand why there isn’t already support for svn in Dreamweaver after all these years. It almost seems comical.

  • Hello there 🙂 ,
    I think the best way to Do a CVS or SVN are using a CMS(Blog) on your local web server, like ” WordPress ” by creating categories (your projects) and writing articles every update by Mentioning ( what did you do on this update ?) and joining a zipped file of your project updated , doing this you got a lovely version control system
    1- you can find it easily ( tag , date , categories (project name))
    2- clients , colleagues or project manager can comment your update

    G Luck

  • Hello there 🙂 ,
    I think the best way to Do a CVS or SVN are using a CMS(Blog) on your local web server, like ” WordPress ” by creating categories (your projects) and writing articles every update by Mentioning ( what did you do on this update ?) and joining a zipped file of your project updated , doing this you got a lovely version control system
    1- you can find it easily ( tag , date , categories (project name))
    2- clients , colleagues or project manager can comment your update

  • Shelon Padmore says:

    Perforce is quite good. Could easily be overkill in most cases though.
    – Shelon Padmore

  • My company used to use Visual SourceSafe for version control of our classic asp client pages, as well as our new development pages. Unfortunately, whoever set up the VSS db didn’t plan ahead: we saved ALL of our files to one repository, and our db corrupted. Long story short, we now use Subversion.
    SVN/Ankh is great in Visual Studio 05, because it shows file status within the program; DW9 is sorely lacking in SVN integration. That stinks, because I prefer using DW over VS05. Like many other posters, I’ve been using it since DW2.
    I installed SVN4DW and SubWeaver this morning, hoping to somehow avoid having to go to my desktop to see if files have been updated, but to no avail. I guess I’m used to being able to tell instantly if a file is checked out (by a padlock/checkmark from VSS) within DW, but these two extensions do nothing of the sort. Sure, you can go to the desktop to see if changes have been made, but that’s not very efficient.
    I’m crossing my fingers for a DW/SVN integration. How hard can it be to make DW display file status like VSS? (OK, maybe it’s hard).

  • I was just roaming the web to find out if svn would be integrated in the dreamweaver 10 version, and then stumbled upon this blog… Well, I use subversion! Please add it to dreamweaver, in a way tortoise-svn works for example. they highlight the icons which are changed, updated, etc., which is a lot better then the non-removable “checked-out by” column in the Files panel of dreamweaver cs3.
    To answer your initial questions: am using subversion on all projects, on all files.
    I have to use a separate program for it (smartSVN), because it’s still not implemented into dreamweaver.
    Sure hope it will be implemented into DW10… just imagine: 5 years ago everybody around me was coding with DW or homesite, now I am 1 of the 2 persons I know who still use it!

  • My company uses Subversion for all of our source control, so obviously, we would all love to see native svn integration in Dreamweaver. For web work, I use the command-line client, while some of our other developers use tortoise, which works for our purposes, although native support would greatly improve our workflow.