Review: Surround SCM

Surround SCM 3.0
starting at $595 per named user
Seapine Software
Mason, Ohio
(513) 754-1655

If you've only worked with the simple source code control of products such as Visual SourceSafe, you're likely to find the full-blown software configuration management of Surround SCM a bit overwhelming. But if you're looking for a cross-platform product that can scale and integrate to handle a variety of challenges, Surround SCM should definitely be on your list to consider.

Surround SCM lets you run its clients or servers on Windows, Linux, Solaris, or Mac OS X. They're all first-class citizens; you have your choice of GUI or command-line clients on all platforms, and the clients and servers can all talk to each other. I looked at the Windows version, which comes with a JRE to handle the included Guiffy java-based diff/merge utility. Setup was easy; after running the installation, there were a few things to fill in for the license server and a couple of other settings, and I was off and running.

Once installed, you'll find the basics that you'd expect: multiple repositories, the ability to manage files, and a thorough set of branching operations. Private branches are easy to set up and manage, letting each team manager have their own sandbox to work in. But Surround SCM goes far beyond this. Here are a few of the other features waiting for you:

  • Triggers before or after practically any event. You can send e-mail or run arbitrary command scripts from a trigger.
  • Changelists that allow you to group most actions into a single atomic transaction in the database.
  • LDAP/Active Directory integration for the license server, so you can use your existing network users as Surround SCM users.
  • Integration with Seapine's own TestTrack Pro defect tracking utility for complete change management.
  • Integration with a whole raft of development tools including Visual Studio, Dreamweaver, JBuilder, CodeWarrior, Eclipse, and more.
  • Role-based security down to the branch level.

The user interface for the GUI client is reasonably intuitive if you've worked with any high-end software configuration management product. You can see branches, repositories, and files in different panes in the GUI, with an activity log and a good set of toolbars and menu commands. But if it's not intuitive, don't worry; there are hundreds of pages of thorough documentation describing both the GUI and command-line clients, as well as other topics such as server management.

Overall, Surround SCM looks like a good choice, especially for sizeable cross-platform development operations. If you'd like to learn more, you can sign up for a 30-day evaluation at Seapine's Web site.



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