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RE: vss to cvs conversion

From: Arthur Barrett
Subject: RE: vss to cvs conversion
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2008 07:50:45 +1000

Please note: it is not possible to 'convert' from any version control system to another.  Each tool like VSS, CVS, CVSNT, PVCS, ClearCase exists because there is a market for it - they each had particular design goals in mind when the systems were built and they each have different strengths and weaknesses.  In particular one version control system cannot be exchanged for another without also changing how your software configuration management processes work (and possibly your project management, QA, and several other business processes).
Some people think that all version control systems are identical and that a company can switch between them -- if this were true there would be one tool and lots of different 'brandings' - but that is not the case.  Also lots of people do not account for the cost of their software systems and the impact on their business systems.  There was a great article on the valuation of IT assets published in The Financial Times UK Edition 36,501 on Monday October 1 2007, and I believe the author will be releasing the complete whitepaper soon. Basically it talks about the lack of business cases for the benefit of software and also the business case for maintaining legacy assets. The costs of replacing software like VSS for CVS/CVSNT are astronomical and rarely worth it to the business, except perhaps that techie employees who like playing with the latest gadgets are less likely to leave that week/month for some other company, thereby reducing employee turnover.
Of course VSS could be considered a 'special case' since a) it is no longer developed and b) has a history of technical problems such as corruption of repositories.  However it's still well worth being aware of the full cost of your 'conversion' and also understanding the wider impacts.
Finally VSS implements a specific model of SCM best characterised as 'reserved centralised' which CVS does not support (but CVSNT does with the correct implementation and configuration).  Switching from 'reserved centralised' to 'unreserved distributed' (which is the CVS model and default CVSNT model) makes for a very differrent user experience and also requires a different kind of project management.  Sucking out your VSS repo and putting it in CVS/CVSNT will not magically fix your user expectations or business systems.
The only VSS to CVSNT 'suck and spit' converter I know of is this one which was written by a contributor to the CVSNT project:
Visual Source Safe to CVS Converter
Be sure to post CVSNT questions to the CVSNT newsgroup.
Arthur Barrett
-----Original Message-----
From: address@hidden [mailto:address@hidden On Behalf Of Damaraju, Vinod
Sent: Friday, 11 April 2008 6:22 AM
To: address@hidden
Subject: vss to cvs conversion



I would appreciate any feedback on VSS to CVS conversion. After some research, I found 2 tools being discussed on the internet. “vss2cvs” a perl script and “VSSExtractor” & “cserver” which are C++ applications functioning in a client-server mode. Can anybody respond with their experiences on these scripts? Specifically, the capability to preserve VSS History and migrate it to CVS and also the ability to apply incremental updates, once a baseline has been established in CVS.


Vinod Damaraju

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