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Helix Core OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

What is Helix Core?

Perforce, the Fast Software Configuration Management System, is a tool that versions and manages source code and digital assets for enterprises. Perforce is easy to install, learn and administer; seamlessly handles distributed development; and supports developers across a large number of platforms. Perforce ensures development integrity by grouping multi-file updates into atomic changes, enables concurrent development, and intelligently manages multiple software releases using its Inter-File Branching system.

Helix Core was previously known as Perforce.

Buyer's Guide

Download the Software Configuration Management Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

Helix Core Customers

Intuit, Disney, Nvidia, Ubisoft, Samsung, Vmware, Adidas, Pixar, salesforce.com, EA

Helix Core Video

Archived Helix Core Reviews (more than two years old)

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it_user541425
SCM administrator at a tech company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
The most valuable features are access control, ability to handle very large file counts, and platform neutrality.

What is most valuable?

  • Fine grained access control.
  • Ability to handle very large file counts, very large version counts, and very large file sizes
  • Speed
  • The server is very efficient
  • Perforce is one of very few software vendors who target documented, standard, stable APIs, instead of some particular server O/S.
  • We can run it on our standard server image instead of preparing and maintaining a special host just for them. This is the case even as our standard server image evolves.


    How has it helped my organization?

    The tool is central to our workflow. It does the following:

    • Drives continuous delivery and integration
    • Delivers large file sets to remote sites faster than anything else
    • Recalls history reliably

    What needs improvement?

    • Perforce does not appear to have an enterprise scale software test environment. We sometimes serve as their software QA department.
    • The database engine is very fast, but has proven difficult for them to debug. Their attempts to work around the scalability issues with its original table-locking design have become a kludge.
    • The “shelving” feature (an answer to Git’s lightweight branching) was released in a half-baked state. We still don’t have a simple, reliable process for terminating a user who left shelved files behind.
    • Perforce tries way too hard to be platform-neutral. Since process management works differently on MS-Windows, they have avoided using Unix inter-process communications features. It’s a forking server that doesn’t use signals or shared memory! They’d be better off if they abandoned Windows as a server O/S, or bite the bullet and start using #ifdef.
    • Edit: In 2017, Perforce dropped support for FreeBSD and Raspberry Pi. Very unfortunate, considering the performance and reliability limitations of the Linux NFS client. Since Windows is not a suitable server OS, that leaves only MacOS and Linux.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    My company has been using this solution since 1998.

    What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

    At very large sync traffic rates, the Linux NFS client under the server becomes unstable. There is no internal load management, so a single abusive command by a user is able to crash the server and corrupt the database.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    As long as it's not grossly overloaded, the server is remarkably stable.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The server runs well on a host with 0.25 TB of RAM and 40 Xeon cores.

    It becomes difficult to manage as the server instance outgrows the hardware platform.

    Offline checkpoints are the only database backup mechanism. Interrupting the checkpoint writing process can corrupt the database.

    At a certain scale, you will be forced into deploying their “federated” cluster configuration.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Technical support for routine issues and tutoring beginners is absolutely the best. They follow up until you are happy. The people you reach by phone or email know the product thoroughly and know how to get you going. (This is comparable to Rackspace or Linode.)

    Support that you receive when you run into obscure bugs that only enterprise customers would ever see, is less amazing. I’ve had to campaign to get obvious bugs fixed.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    I have used Git and Revision Control System (RCS). These cannot handle our file sets. Git and Gerritt take a thousand times more infrastructure for the same user and file count and transaction rate.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was mixed. A basic installation is trivial and reliable.

    It gets complex when you add redundancy, fancy access controls, and build farm replicas.

    One real annoyance is Perforce’s newfound preference to ship a pre-configured container rather than a proper enterprise installation package.

    We need a standardized, long term supported platform for a server O/S. Last week’s Ubuntu CD in a VM isn’t what we need.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    If you need to version millions of files, it’s worth the money.

    What other advice do I have?

    • Read the manual and the release notes. Configuration is intricate, but well documented.
    • Standardize your installation so you can move it around and upgrade it reliably. This server is more reliable than the hardware you will run it on.
    • Build hardware redundancy into your setup from the beginning, so you don’t have to add that into your operation later while it’s running.
    • The server database is I/O bound. Any NFS server will be adequate for the versioned files, but the database needs to be on the fastest direct attached RAID array that you can set up.
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    ITCS user
    Software Developer at a insurance company with 501-1,000 employees
    Vendor
    Gave us the capability to manage our deployments on different environments.

    What is most valuable?

    • Branching
    • Change list
    • Revision graph: Has been instrumental in figuring out confusing merging issues and determining where the issue occurred
    • The ability to add additional custom tools into the product to extend its capability.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Perforce has given us the capability to manage our deployments on different environments. We lacked a build and deployment tool to do this for us.

    Thanks to the revision graph feature, we are able to track a release from one environment branch to the next.

    Before using this solution, this was very manual, i.e., direct deployments to environments from developer workstations.

    What needs improvement?

    The part of Perforce that could be most improved is its automatic resolving of code merge conflicts. It takes a great deal of experience with Perforce merging to obtain an understanding of how the automatic resolve determines which version of a file to take, i.e., target or source. 

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using Perforce for about two weeks. Before that we were using an older version of Perforce (2011.2) for seven years. We have never changed our SCM strategy in that time, so there is much of the product that we are not utilizing.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Perforce is a very stable piece of software, for Windows and Linux. Our server is on a Linux box and we use a Windows client to connect to it. We have not once had an issue with connectivity, responsiveness, or crashes.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Perforce is highly scalable. Its Custom Tools feature enables you to create and add custom tooling to allow you to do things differently. 

    The ability to change the programs used for file diffs is also a boon to the product.

    How was the initial setup?

    The setup of the client was extremely straightforward. You enter your host name of the server that Perforce Helix is running on, select your account name, and you’re in.

    The workspace setup is also very easy and flexible. It allows you to enter whatever path you want for your local repository.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    Due to lack of interest, we have not evaluated alternatives. I personally have used BitBucket and SourceTree Client. I did this to try out a distributed source control environment and to experiment with different SCM strategies to implement at my company.

    What other advice do I have?

    Take a look at their user base.

    We are a small shop that works in a single building. A centralized source control system works very well for us, and we don’t need the dynamics of a distributed system. If you have employees who are working abroad, or not in your central location, I would stay clear of centralized source control systems.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Find out what your peers are saying about Perforce, IBM, Microsoft and others in Software Configuration Management. Updated: November 2021.
    554,382 professionals have used our research since 2012.
    ITCS user
    Configuration Manager with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Real User
    Provides a common platform for team collaboration.

    What is most valuable?

    The excellent traceability of all changes made to the product and the support for collaborative work.

    How has it helped my organization?

    It has provided a common platform for team collaboration.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like to see installation and support for Git-based workflow.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using this solution for eight years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    I did not encounter any issues with stability.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It scales well, but installation and server management gets technically very complicated when the installation grows.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    We used several other solutions, but needed…

    What is most valuable?

    The excellent traceability of all changes made to the product and the support for collaborative work.

    How has it helped my organization?

    It has provided a common platform for team collaboration.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like to see installation and support for Git-based workflow.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using this solution for eight years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    I did not encounter any issues with stability.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It scales well, but installation and server management gets technically very complicated when the installation grows.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    We used several other solutions, but needed to coordinate the use of version control tools.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup of a basic installation is easy. When the installation grows and new features are added, it becomes very complex.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We evaluated and compared ClearCase, Subversion, and TFS.

    What other advice do I have?

    Try to use a standardized installation to avoid growing complexity due to many customer specific adaptions.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    ITCS user
    Senior Data Manager at a computer software company with 10,001+ employees
    Vendor
    We moved all our collaborative storage into the solution’s servers.

    What is most valuable?

    • We moved all our collaborative storage into Perforce servers. It fits our types of assets (big size, mostly binaries).
    • Perforce is very fast, even for very huge assets.

    What needs improvement?

    • The branching strategy of helix is still too technical to handle for a non-technical user, like a graphic artist.
    • The concept of workspace is hard to acquire at first. Users naturally would like it to be more transparent to configure.
    • Desynchronization was one of our most frequent issues.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    There have not been many stability issues. Many of the instabilities came from our own infrastructure.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    There are scalability issues when there is too much traffic, such as when there are extremely huge amount of calls by APIs.

    In these cases, the server responds slowly. This happens for particularly old servers.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    The technical support was almost perfect, both for user support and for system administrators.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    Like most of the companies of my industry, we used Microsoft SourceSafe before this solution. We are still using DVCS solutions, but we didn't switch to Perforce DVCS yet.

    How was the initial setup?

    Server-side and user-side, there was an inevitable learning curve, particularly in terms of workspace handling.

    You have to ask these questions:

    • How do I create it?
    • Why are the files read-only?
    • How can I avoid the desynchronization?

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    For small companies and students, the free limited user version can work. (It used to be for 20 users, and now it is for five users).

    Otherwise, it's still possible to keep using an older version of the server with no support. In this way, you can avoid the high cost of the per-user, per-year licensing.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    The Hg-Git DVCS solution was an alternative. Alienbrain Asset Management for Artists was also a serious concurrent.

    What other advice do I have?

    Use a Linux server and get good training at the beginning to minimize newbie mistakes.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    it_user607377
    Senior Technical Consultant at a healthcare company with 5,001-10,000 employees
    Vendor
    It gives a pictorial view of different file versions

    What is most valuable?

    The code comparison functionality and the command line options for automation are valuable features.

    It gives a nice pictorial view of different file versions. It is easy to manage/merge issues.

    The command line gives options for those who are willing to integrate it with the automation tools.

    What needs improvement?

    The offline versioning needs to be improved. The auto-sensing features of local branch changes to remote, once it comes online.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have used this product for three years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    I have not encountered any stability issues.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    I have not encountered any scalability issues.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    The technical support is good.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    I have not used any other solution before this.

    How was the initial setup?

    There was a separate dedicated team to manage all such things.

    What other advice do I have?

    It is a good product with all the required features in it.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Buyer's Guide
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