Databases in Source Control

I’ve been working as a database professional for quite a long time. But originally, I was a developer. And I loved being a developer. There was this constant feedback loop of a job well done, your code compiled and it ran. Every time this happened successfully, you’d check it into source control. These days you have to add another step; the code passed all the tests, unit, line, regression, qa, whatever, then into source control it goes. As a matter of fact, when I first made the jump from developer to DBA/database developer/database professional, source control was the one thing I couldn’t believe was missing from the DBA toolbox. Come to find out, source control was only the beginning of what was missing from your standard DBAs set of skills. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not disrespecting the DBA. They’re focused where they should be, on your production data. But there has to be a method for developing applications that include databases and the database side of that development and deployment process has long been lacking.

This lack of development and deployment methodologies is a part of what has given rise to some of the wackier implementations of Object Relational Mapping tools, the NoSQL movement, and some of the other foul cursing that is directed towards databases, DBAs, and database development by application developers. Some of that is well earned. A lot isn’t. But it is a fact that database professionals, in general, do not have as sophisticated a model for managing development and deployment as application developers do.

We could charge out and start trying to come up with our own standards and methods. I’m sure people have done exactly that. However, I’m lazy, and not terribly bright. Rather than try to invent a whole new process, I’m going to look to my developer roots and choose instead to emulate the developers. They’re sitting over there across the hall from me working with SCRUM/Agile/Waterfall/Object Driven/Feature Driven/Test Driven development processes that they’ve been polishing for years. What if I just started working on database development the same way they work on code development? Win!

Ah, but now I have to have a mechanism for treating my database like application code. First, I need a method for getting it into source control.

That’s where Red Gate’s SQL Source Control comes into the picture. SQL Source Control works within SQL Server Management Studio to connect your database objects up to the source control system of your choice. Right out of the box SQL Source Control can link to TFS, SVN or Vault. With a little work you can connect it to Git or just about any other source control system.

With the ability to get my database into source control, a lot of possibilities for more direct integration with the application development teams open up.