Setting Database Options

As the database administrator for your team, you will need to set a number of options to customize your environment. Additionally, individual team members have a variety of options that they can set using Visual SourceSafe Explorer.

To make customizations for your team you can:

  • Use the SourceSafe Options dialog box from Visual SourceSafe Administrator.

  • Set initialization variables in the initialization (.ini) files for the site. Many of these variables simply reflect settings you make in the user interface. However, some of them can only be set in an .ini file, using a text editor.

  • Set environment variables, also in the .ini files.

Using the SourceSafe Options Dialog Box for Team Management

In Visual SourceSafe Administrator, you can set many database-wide options using the SourceSafe Options dialog box. This dialog box is also available through Visual SourceSafe Explorer, but some of the tabs are not accessible to the regular user. Some items that you might want customize as the database administrator are:

  • International settings if your environment is widely distributed

  • Time zone

  • File types to be included in a file group for access from Visual SourceSafe Explorer

When you use the SourceSafe Options dialog box to customize Visual SourceSafe. Visual SourceSafe saves your changes in memory. However, Visual SourceSafe Administrator or Visual SourceSafe Explorer does not write the changes to the appropriate initialization file until you quit the program or open a different database. Therefore, if you start a second Visual SourceSafe session before exiting the first, your changes in the first session will not yet be in effect.

Working with Visual SourceSafe Initialization Variables

The main initialization files in Visual SourceSafe are Srcsafe.ini, Ss.ini, and Ssadmin.ini. Definitions and examples are provided in Database Design.


Initialization variables set in Ss.ini or Ssadmin.ini override settings in Srcsafe.ini.

Each initialization file contains a number of initialization variables that reflect the default Visual SourceSafe settings and user settings made in the client programs, for example, from the SourceSafe Options dialog box. In addition, they contain a select number of options that you cannot change through the user interface. For these variables, you must edit the initialization files directly.

Caution noteCaution

As the database administrator for your site, you are the only user who should ever edit the Srcsafe.ini file.

The following initialization variables can only be set in the initialization files:

You can read and modify initialization files with any text editor. There is a limit of 511 characters in a line in an initialization file, although this maximum might be restricted by specific variable requirements, such as project path limitations.

There are three types of lines in the initialization files:

  • Functional lines, which set initialization variables, having the following format:

    <initialization variable> = <value>
  • Comments, which Visual SourceSafe ignores. A comment line begins with a semicolon, for example:

    ; Here I am, JP.
  • Headers, represented in brackets, that specify particular project paths or are used for special purposes. Here are two header examples, with the first being a project header for project $/Word:

    [Keyword Comments]

The order of variables inside an initialization file is not important. However, the header under which a variable is placed is very important. If a variable is placed under the wrong header it is ignored. For example, a general-purpose variable that is placed under [Keyword Comments] is ignored. For more about using initialization variables, see Customizing Projects Using Initialization Variables.

Using Visual SourceSafe Environment Variables

Visual SourceSafe defines several environment variables, listed in the following table. You can set these variables in Windows for a variety of maintenance purposes. For maintenance topics, see Maintaining and Optimizing Visual SourceSafe.


Specifies the path for executable files. Add the path to your Win32 folder, which by default contains Visual SourceSafe program files. For example PATH=%PATH%;c:\Program Files\vss\win32.


Overrides the project setting in Ss.ini and is most commonly used in writing batch files and macros for Visual SourceSafe.


Specifies a file name that contains a 32-bit integer date/time stamp in binary format. This variable is used for setting dates and times for debugging.


Specifies the location of the Srcsafe.ini file for a Visual SourceSafe database to which to connect.


Overrides the location of a user's Ss.ini file, as provided in Users.txt.


Specifies platform specifiers to load from the Srcsafe.ini and Ss.ini files. If this variable is not set, the defaults for Win32 systems are NT, Win, PC, UI for Visual SourceSafe Explorer components, and NT, Win, PC, CL for command line components.


Specifies the default password to be used for command line operations, in clear text,


Specifies the default user name to be used for command line operations.

See Also