is no restriction on the tools or environments authors can use to create web files. Perforce has some features that integrate well with certain web tools:
- Tools which provide menu bar customization can use Perforce's command line interface for source control operations.
- Some Windows tools support the Microsoft Source Code Control (SCC) interface. Perforce provides a Windows SCC DLL that allows tools to be configured to use Perforce for source control. This permits authors to access Perforce operations from within the authoring environment itself.
- When authoring tools do not provide a source control interface, Perforce client commands can be used directly to manage files in a workspace. An author uses Perforce commands to synchronize files to a workspace, open files to work on them, and then uses the authoring tool to make modifications to the files. When modifications are complete in the workspace, the author uses Perforce commands to submit the files to the depot.
- Many web authoring tools provide facilities to put files on directly onto web sites, and are actually designed to do this by default. This facility is not needed when Perforce is used for WCM–in fact, Perforce saves the administrative overhead of giving authors network access to the web server machine. Authors simply use Perforce to fill their workspaces, then use the authoring tool in "local" mode to modify workspace files. When they submit files to the Perforce depot, their files become available to the web site.
- For the case where authoring tools create or modify files unexpectedly, Perforce client commands can be used to detect new and changed files in the workspace. This allows authors to put all files involved in the web site under source control.
- When web files are generated from source files, Perforce can be used to track files that need regeneration. Perforce's InterFile BranchingTM allows files to be associated by filename; HTML files, for example, can be associated with XML files from which they are generated. As new XML files are submitted, Perforce reporting commands can be used to identify which HTML files need regenerating.
- Perforce can handle a variety of file types (text, binary, etc.). Perforce's three-way merge tool can be used to integrate changes when more than one author has modified the same text file. For non-text files, Perforce can be configured to use third-party merge tools.
By far, the majority of Perforce customers are software development organizations. An added benefit of Perforce is that once it is installed for software development it can be used for web content management at no additional cost, and with very little administrative effort. However, Perforce is just as suitable for web content management independent of software development. As the models described above illustrate, Perforce can provide complete, unobtrusive control of web content evolution and distribution in a variety of implementations.
Appendix: Relevant Perforce Features
Some additional features of Perforce are particularly relevant for WCM purposes:
- The operation that synchronizes the workspace with the depot (called "sync") only transfers files when needed. That is, the sync operation can be invoked as often as desired, but the server only sends files to the workspace if the workspace versions are no longer current. Therefore, an automated service or daemon that synchronizes a web site workspace every few minutes is very efficient–if nothing has changed in the depot, no data transfer takes place.
- When a user submits a collection of changed files, Perforce numbers and records an atomic transaction called a changelist. Perforce enforces the integrity of each changelist so that even in the face of network or system problems, a user can
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