October 31, 2017

Bolster Performance With Perforce Fall VCS Releases

Version Control

Between September 28 and October 26, we released important upgrades to Helix Core, Helix Visual Client (P4V), Helix Swarm, and major plugins like P4Eclipse, Helix Plugin for Visual Studio (P4VS), and our Microsoft .NET API.

These features were designed to help teams:

  • Save time
  • Boost server performance
  • Streamline development workflows

Keep reading to learn more about the upgrades and how to take advantage of them.

Helix Core: More Upgrades to Server Performance

The 2017.2 release of Helix Core continues to raise the bar by adding support for third-party WAN acceleration technologies.

Although Helix Core’s TCP/IP tuning and parallel sync capabilities already provide enterprise-class performance, many global companies in film or game development already use WAN acceleration technologies. With this release, they’ll be able to boost performance by using the technology alongside Perforce Federated Services to ensure remote sites are in sync with central servers at all times.

How WAN Acceleration and Perforce Federated Services Work

Many of our customers with geographically distributed teams already use Perforce Federated Services thanks to its significant performance advantages compared to other solutions, even without WAN acceleration.

An edge server contains a replicated copy of the commit-server data and a unique, local copy of workspace and work-in-progress information. You can connect multiple edge servers to a commit server.

From a user's perspective, most operations are handled by an edge server until the point of submit. As with a forwarding replica, read operations, such as obtaining a list of files or viewing file history, are local. With an edge server, syncing, checking out, merging, resolving, and reverting files are also local operations. This greatly improves performance.

The WAN acceleration technology further improves the speed and efficiency of the commit-edge architecture, moving assets regardless of file size, transfer distance, or network conditions. This dramatically improves developer productivity and build performance when large, ever-changing files are involved.

Use cases suggest that organizations depending on transferring terabytes of digital assets across multiple locations (to maintain aggressive schedules and contain costs) gain the most from this support, which provides up to 14x faster operations.

If you work with large files, you know what a game changer this could be.

Boost Performance and Stability Even Without WAN Acceleration

In line with the performance theme of 2017.2, we’ve also increased parallel sync operations by improving resilience under load to support a greater number of simultaneous requests. Parallel sync is one of several techniques Perforce employs to make Helix Core the fastest VCS server on the planet. This upgrade is independent from our support for WAN acceleration technologies.

Helix Visual Client: Developer Desktops Get Faster

The Helix Visual Client (P4V) 2017.3, a popular adjunct to Helix Core, is available for Linux, Macintosh, and Windows operating systems. Like Helix Core, this release focuses on performance. With the aforementioned enhancements for multiple parallel sync operations, we also reinforced the support in P4V so the client and the server work together to boost performance and stability.

Another great feature is the ability to easily restore client workspaces to their original state from within P4V. With a single click from the UI, you can level set and restore your workspace to its original state so that it matches the depot. Users can leverage this feature to rid their workspace of deleted files, ones that are not under source control, and refresh those that have been modified.

Helix Swarm 2017.3: Communication Enhancements for Code Reviews and Collaboration

As with past releases this year, the enhancements in Helix Swarm 2017.3 focus on streamlining communication on development projects, notably with whom — and how — reviews are shared.

For example, project owners, review authors, and commenters can save time during code reviews by setting up a group of users who can approve, vote, or comment on particular reviews. You can even add subgroups to organize individuals who have the same set of permissions. Additionally, enhancements improve the productivity of individual group reviewers by facilitating find and filter for group reviews.

Another great, new feature is the ability to add an email mailing list to review groups so group reviewers always know about key changes and review requests. This is especially useful for those who don’t keep Swarm open all the time.  It lets you use your email client’s ability to filter, group, and prioritize notifications sent by Swarm.

Finally, Swarm now allows flexibility in how approvals/disapprovals — sometimes referred to as “votes” — may be counted. Project owners can choose whether an action from one user will represent the action of the whole group, or instead require all users within the group to take individual action and vote for approval or disapproval.

Helix Plugin for Visual Studio: New Functionality for Microsoft Developers

The Helix Plugin for Visual Studio (P4VS) 2017.2 brings developers the enterprise-class version control features from Helix Core they love into their workflow without ever leaving the Visual Studio IDE.

Defined workspaces in Helix Core will now automatically be set as your default workspace for Visual Studio projects. You can choose from a drop-down list of Perforce servers previously accessed. When you return online after working locally for several hours, 2017.2 makes it easier to reconcile your work, showing moves, adds, and deletes to save you considerable time.

P4VS 2017.2 also features better toolbar integration. For example, the status bar now displays the number of active pending changelists and will bring up that tool window when clicked. That means you can resume work in progress more quickly. It also respects Visual Studio’s list of files that should be under source control, so you no longer have to manually eliminate files that accidentally get added to your workspace. And, when you start new projects in Visual Studio, we automatically offer you the option to incorporate them in Helix Core. Additionally, the plugin offers improved integration with Helix Swarm, so you can get your work reviewed, approved, and into production even faster.

P4API.NET 2017.2

If scripting in the robust P4 command line isn’t enough for your sophisticated custom tooling project, P4API.NET is a fully supported Helix API for the .NET environment. P4VS is built using P4API.NET, which provides speed and stability when working with large projects. Documentation and code samples are available for use of the API with C#, C++, and Visual Basic. P4API.NET 2017.2 was released to support P4VS 2017.2.


P4Eclipse: New Functionality for Eclipse Users

The big feature for P4Eclipse 2017.1 is support for Eclipse Neon 4.6, but pre-commit Swarm reviews are also supported now, meaning you can do more from within your IDE. The Eclipse integration enables you to create a new review or update an existing review from P4Eclipse pending changelists and submitted changelists views. And you can now update a review by choosing the pending changelist from the P4Eclipse pending changelists view, right-clicking, and selecting “Update Swarm Review”.


Don’t See an Upgrade You Want? Check Back

At Perforce, we’re always listening to our customers. We still have a couple of months to go this year, so if the upgrade or enhancement you desire isn’t mentioned here, check back soon. It may just be on your gift list over the holidays.

You can dive deeper during the What’s New webinar on November 9 with Perforce Senior Solutions Engineer Jackie Garcia. We’ll discuss the latest features, give you tips on how you can start using them, and answer all your questions.