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Visual FoxPro provides a number of features that support team development. A significant feature of team development is the use of a source code control system to coordinate who can access and modify files in a project.

Source control is the generic term for tools that manage files in a multi-developer environment. Most source control tools work something like a traditional public library, maintaining a central repository of files — documents, programs, or any other files — in a location accessible to all developers. In addition, source control tools include the ability to track the changes that developers make to files and revert to earlier versions if necessary.

Generally speaking, source control tools provide some or all of these features:

  • Check out, check inВ В В Developers check out a file by downloading a copy from the central repository to their local computer before modifying it. As a rule, while a file is checked out, other developers cannot check it out or modify it, but they can usually view it by synchronizing, or getting a read-only copy of it. (If the file is a text file, such as program source code, it's possible for several developers to check out the same file, and then merge others' changes with their local copy.) When developers are done with a file, they can check in their changes by checking in, or uploading, their local copy to the central repository. As part of the file check-in process, most source control tools prompt the developer to enter any comments about changes made to the file.

  • MergingВ В В To allow several developers to work concurrently on the same file, source control software allows multiple developers to check out the file at the same time. (This can usually be done only with text files such as program source code.) If another developer has changed the file, the source control system can integrate those changes into your version of the file.

  • Project controlВ В В Developers can organize files into projects or other work-specific categories. Files can often be shared between projects if necessary.

  • Change trackingВ В В Most source control systems keep track of the changes made in a file when it's checked in. This allows developers to reconstruct earlier versions of the file, which is useful for recovering earlier work.

  • Difference checkingВ В В Source control software allows developers to compare versions of a file and review the differences between them.

  • HistoryВ В В Developers can examine the check-in history for each file, including the comments made by each developer when checking in the file.

    If your source control software supports comments, take advantage of it. Comments can greatly aid in the process of tracking changes and provide a useful history of application development.

To use source code control, users must join a source-controlled project (sometimes referred to as "enlisting" in a project). When users have joined a project, they can check out and check in the files that belong to that project.

You must enable your source control system's option to check out the same file multiple times in order for several developers to work in a project concurrently. For details, refer to the documentation for your source code control software.

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