Sitecore serialization for version control

As described in the latest post about Continuous Integration we have been working on making it easier and less manual to have multiple developers work on the same project in different environments. However one thing that has always been a challenge is Sitecore items in form of templates, layouts etc. Until now we have run on a shared database server, making updates to Sitecore from a shared server to avoid data cache issues. This has a couple of disadvantages:

·         It is quite difficult to synchronize environments. If we want to update the development environment with content from production, we either have to create a huge package with all the content or restore the database from production, freezing all development while it is updated.

·         There is no way of tracking changes or roll back.

·         It is inconvenient for our developers to work on a shared server, when developing backend functionality.

When Sitecore introduced serialization in Sitecore 6, we were hoping to be able to allow local databases that syncs via SVN and (de)serialization. The dream is a VisualSVN or TurtoiseSVN like functionality for Sitecore. Imagine using the gutter as an indicator whether you have made changes to an item and then have a commit button, which commits the changes to the repository, allowing other developers to update their database with the changes. Has anyone out there tried implementing something similar?

I have taken a look at the serialization functionality and found a few issues. Most of them can be worked around, but I was hoping, that we could have achieved our goal mostly using standard functionality.

To have version control you need the following operations:

·         Create: This works more or less as expected in (de)serialization

·         Merge: There seem to be no actual merge functionality. If you deserialize an item, which already exists (identified by item id), the item with the latest _update date, will be used. There is no merging of fields, as far as I have been able to test. This is not such a big issue, as the serialized items can be merged on file level. However it would be nice to be able to force an update through via the UI. This is by default only possible from the API.

·         Delete: This is not possible with serialization. We have thought of a couple of solutions, but they are quite extensive.

So what really needs to be handled is a way of deleting items with serialization. Oh… and a lot of UI functionality to make it work as VisualSVN 😉

Anyone got any experiences?


3 thoughts on “Sitecore serialization for version control

  1. Pingback: Sitecore Fetch Squad » Blog Archive » Sitecore serialization for version control

  2. Andrey says:


    Could you say now did you solve above mentioned problems or no? if yes can you show or tell us about your solutions here?

    with regards,

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