Plastic SCM vs. Perforce Helix Core version control
June 14, 2021

Plastic SCM vs. Perforce Helix Core: Which Is Best for Your Team?

Version Control

When Plastic SCM was acquired by Unity, game dev and VFX studios already using the Unity Engine started considering it more seriously for version control. Why? On the surface, Plastic SCM is an attractive solution. It offers a friendly UI for artists and handles the basics of version control at low scale.

Plastic SCM vs. Perforce — Game Development & Beyond

But if you are starting to build the next great game or immersive cinematic experience, you’re eventually going to need to push the bounds of scale and performance. And if you start with a tool that cannot scale with you, you’re eventually going to have a migration project on your hands. Just ask virtual production studio ICVR.

"In working with Unreal Engine, Perforce was the obvious choice for us over other solutions like Plastic SCM. We rely heavily on Perforce's file locking ability for team collaboration with binary files, integration with our Jetbrains Rider CI/CD pipeline, and use with Unreal Game Sync to make compiled custom engine builds available to all team members, especially artists and other less technical roles.” — Ihar Heneralau, CEO/Co-Founder ICVR

Start here and learn more about Plastic SCM vs. Perforce Helix Core. Because it is important to have tools that can support your team both now and in the future.

Plastic SCM vs. Perforce Overview

How does Plastic SCM vs. Perforce Helix Core compare? Go to the FAQs.

Functionality

Plastic SCM

Perforce Helix Core

Centralized

Yes

Yes

Distributed

Yes

Yes — Work offline! DVCS is available for Helix Core.

File Commit Restrictions

Yes – Plastic uses a per-changeset model that requires the entire workspace be up to date before being allowed to commit. This introduces unnecessary delays and restrictions.

No – In Helix Core, only modified files are required to be up to date before being allowed to commit. This allows game developers to quickly commit changes to an image without having to update the entire project every time they want to submit a change.

Time-Lapse Views

Nope.

Yes – Scroll through your history to understand how your code evolves.

 “Workspace Types” for Different GUIs

Yes – “Regular” workspaces for non-Glueon vs. “partial” workspaces for Glueon are not compatible with each other.

Nope — Keep it simple!

Manages Large to Huge Repos

Not Really — Plastic’s own performance tests conveniently top out with a repo that is less than 8 GB, which is tiny in the modern game development world.

Yes — Helix Core was built to scale and can manage 100s TBs and millions of files in a single repo (without the wait).

Stores Large Files (Binaries)

Kind of — But this severely impacts performance.

Yes — Helix Core can handle everything with the speed required for high-performing teams.

Locks to Avoid Merge Conflicts

Yes

Yes

GUIs for Developers & Designers

Yes —But they are completely disconnected. You can’t work on code and digital assets in the same workspace since they require different GUIs by persona.

Yes — Use Helix Visual Client (P4V) for code, binaries, and even Git files. Use Helix Sync for drop and drag version control, no matter your toolset. You can easily switch back and forth between them and work in the same workspace.

Task Branches

Yes

Yes — Using Perforce Streams, developers can make task streams.

Detecting Merges & Showing History

Yes

Yes — Stream and version browsers show all merge and version history, plus how files and streams have changed over time.

Merge Process and Automation

No

Yes — Streams light up red and green to show copy/merge events that are available, easily guiding the user through the merge process.

Graphical Model and Manage Stream/Branch Workflow

No

Yes – The Stream Graph allows you to create streams and determine the relationships them. This helps automate the flow of your code and digital assets. You can even drag and drop to re-organize how you work.

 

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Plastic SCM vs. Perforce Helix Core FAQs

Plastic SCM claims… a lot. But does it check out? Go in-depth on some of our FAQs to see how we compare in:

Does Plastic SCM Perform Better Than Helix Core?

Plastic SCM lays out a performance scenario that they refer to as “medium.” It makes sense that Plastic SCM would avoid comparing “large” and “extra-large” scenarios since they cannot scale like Helix Core.

Their “medium” test only involves a repo that is 7.16GB in total size. Helix Core would label this test “small” (if not “extra-small”). This test was run on a Windows environment. Our Helix Core install base is approximately 90% Linux, 10% Windows. It is known that Helix Core runs faster on Linux, in general.  In addition, this performance comparison was run against Helix Core version 2018.2. Recent changes to Helix Core have resulted in >10% performance gains on both “sync” and “submit” operations on Windows servers.

But performance is just one of the reasons that multiple customers try Plastic SCM (because they believed the hype) only to come back after it could not scale to their needs.

Does Plastic SCM Have a Better Artist GUI Than Helix Core?

Plastic SCM has a GUI — Glueon. It is positioned to be more user friendly. But not everyone on a team, especially artists and designers, want to learn a new tool. To avoid version control, some team members may even start using email or DropBox instead.

Helix Core has been serving teams of developers for years. But our new tool Helix Sync — the free desktop client created just for non-coders — allows everyone to version their way. No more unsecure sharing methods.

How Does Helix Sync Work?

Helix Sync is an ideal solution. Creatives can simply drag and drop assets to version them in a secure Helix Core server. It’s easy to get started.

  1. Connect to a Helix Visual Client (P4V) workspace.
  2. Create using the tools you love — Maya, 3ds Max, Photoshop, and more.
  3. Drag and drop assets into a local folder to version and simply “upload” your changes. Learn more >>

Artists get to keep their own workflow while still getting all the benefits of Helix Core.

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Studios can protect and reuse digital assets with the performance required to manage ever-increasing file size. With Helix Sync, teams get a single source of truth for all digital assets, leading to faster builds and seamless collaboration.

Does Plastic SCM Branching Mechanism Beat Perforce?

Plastic SCM does offer standard branching capabilities like task branching, diff, and 3-way merge tools. They claim to handle complex integration scenarios like move/rename + readd better than Helix Core, but that is not true, never has been. Helix Core gracefully handles merges for the world’s largest and most complex codebases. In continuing to deliver on its best-in-class capability, Helix Core’s latest release delivered improvements to the namespace merge algorithm.

Because with Streams, developers’ lives are easier. It helps them code more instead of dealing with overhead. The structure is built-in to support complex branching for development and releases (no matter your branching strategy). Plus, this foundation is flexible enough to adapt to how your team works.

Get a complete guide to version control branching >>

How Perforce Streams Works

When a developer creates a branch, Streams sets up their workspace automatically. It knows what files are available and developers can see which ones are being worked on (and by whom). Streams creates and shows the flow of change between branches.

Your team no longer needs to rely on naming conventions to determine how branches are related. And forget about documenting branching strategies on a white board! Because with Streams, you always know where your code needs to go.

Using the Stream Graph, developers can visualize how code is propagated. They can quickly check to see if they have the most recent changes in the parent branch. If there are updates available, new code can be merged down. Then changes can be copied up. This helps keep your branches stable.

Does Perforce Helix Core Work in the Cloud?

Plastic SCM offers a cloud hosting solution, which removes some of the ongoing maintenance requirements. However, any customers that need to work at scale quickly find that they need to move from their cloud offering to their enterprise offering. With Helix Core, you can get everything you need in your preferred cloud (AWS, Azure, and coming soon GCP) in just a few clicks.

What About Plastic SCM vs. Perforce Git Solutions?

Plastic offers a 2-way sync with Git because plastic “adheres to the Git protocol.” Developers can push and pull and to Git, it just looks like another client.

Perforce also offers a Git solution. With Helix4Git, you get a mirroring system that allows developers to continue using their current preferred Git code hosting & collaboration solutions. To them, it looks like Git. But all the code is stored in the powerful Helix Core server. Teams get a single source of truth for all assets and they can view code from both Git and Helix Core in a single Helix Core workspace.

You can also our Helix TeamHub Git code hosting & collaboration solution to take advantage of unique to-Perforce Git functionality like multi-repo code reviews and the new hth-cli command line offering.

Verdict — Plastic SCM Vs. Perforce Helix Core

Plastic SCM can’t compare with Helix Core. Because as studios scale and teams grow, Plastic slows down. From scale to performance, it’s clear why 19 of the top 20 AAA game development studios trust Helix Core.

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