To develop complex, customised applications in distributed locations efficiently - an example at mcs engineering ag
To develop complex, customised applications in distributed locations efficiently … with an easy and reliable versioning … and with a minimum time involved for data handling and tool administration! The mcs group meets this challenge with Perforce, one of the leading software solutions in the area of versioning and configuration management. Eric Gutmann, project manager at mcs engineering ag in Grüsch/GR, reports.
The mcs group is specialized in the development of technical software for the industrial environment – with focus on CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) and CNC (Computerized Numerical Control). The Group is the development partner of two international tool manufacturers and, in addition, looks after specific projects of other global industrial companies in the areas of system engineering, automation and medical devices.
With about 30 employees in the Swiss locations Bern, Grüsch and Thun mcs offers comprehensive services: from consulting, conceptual design, development and maintenance up to review of software concepts and programs.
mcs has been working with Perforce for about three years now. The tool they used before was based on "pessimistic locking" which did not cope with the processes of mcs any more. „We work increasingly in distributed teams in different locations. Hence, we were looking for a solution with which several people can work in parallel on a project – efficiently and location independently", explains Eric Gutmann.
mcs tested various tools, also Open Source solutions. Decisively for the decision for Perforce finally was one of their corporate customers, which already had Perforce in use, according to Eric Gutmann.
Eric Gutmann, Project Manager &
IT Resposible at the location Grüsch, mcs engineering ag
Expectations exceeded by far
„Actually, we were forced to our luck... for which we are grateful today!", says Eric Gutmann with a laugh. The apparently high initial costs of Perforce – in comparison to Open Source solutions – are more than made up with the functionality, stability, flexibility and user friendliness of the software, explains Eric Gutmann further. „It is very easy to set up and run a 'proxy server' to work in geographically distributed teams. Also the download of data is a breeze. We were surprised how much time we could save".
Today, thus the cooperation between the teams and with the customer is very effective and merging & branching is realised with substantially less stress for everyone.
A „quick and easy“ start
„We accelerated practically from 0 to 100", says Gutmann. „Learning by doing ... the software is very intuitive." During the first couple of months Perforce was used in parallel with the old system. This made it possible for the team to get familiar with the functionalities of Perforce without pressure. „This approach proved itself very useful! After only two months we were productive with Perforce."
Beside the already mentioned advantages like short download times, user-friendliness and low administration costs Perforce convinces by its stability and functionality. „In particular the possibility to have different workspaces per user, the "3-Way Merge" and the "Time-Lapse View" are of great help to us", explains Eric Gutmann further.
On a scale of 1 – 10 Perforce receives seven points from mcs. „In many projects we unfortunately still work with Visual Studio 2005 and therefore cannot use the new Visual Studio (VS) plug-in of Perforce. Nevertheless, the transition to VS 2010 and therefore to the new Perforce plug-in P4VS is coming closer and we are expecting striking reliefs", believes Eric Gutmann. Above all, Gutmann sees potential in the management of documents. With Commons Perforce (Version 12.1) has taken the first step in the correct direction, nevertheless, it still needs some improvements. „Unicode ability is a "must" in German or French speaking countries", he complements. Also the layout of a "3-Way Merge" has not matured yet. „Nevertheless, we will keep an eye on Commons as a solution for the management of our binary documents."
From mcs's view it would be nice if Perforce would provide an integrated back-up system. With the latest release, also the clarity of the filter settings has suffered a bit in the eyes of Eric Gutmann.
„Yes, I can recommend Perforce with a clear conscience!", adds Eric Gutmann.
Also with the support of the Perforce team mcs is satisfied. „So far we never had to contact the technical support of Perforce... what speaks, actually, for the software", smiles Eric Gutmann. „Nevertheless, the cooperation with EVOCEAN as the local partner gives a lot of pleasure – they take care of nearly everything!"