What Exactly Is Version Control?

by Lewis Winter on 21st January 2022

A version control system is a software tool that allows software teams to manage code in a sophisticated manner. It eliminates the possibility of any issues that can disrupt and cause conflict within the code. In other words, it enables more than one developer to edit a specific file at any given time. The further you are into development, the higher the chances of risk, which is why it’s vital that version control is set up at the beginning of a new project.

Companies that have a medium-sized development team and above will always have a version control system in place. If this is not the case, then the chance of overall risk would be significantly higher.

On the flip side, it’s more frequent for smaller development teams not to have a dedicated system. A group of 2-3 developers can be seen as manageable by some. If that number increases, you should be looking to implement the software as soon as possible.

Why do we use version control?

We use version control for all of our website development projects as it gives us a greater sense of security and allows us to be more flexible with our work. It tracks our progress every step of the way, meaning we can backtrack if any issues occur. In addition, the software helps facilitate the accessibility of files as the latest version will always be available to each individual.

Version control systems available

There is a wide choice in version control systems with each having their pros and cons. Here are some of the more popular options out there:

  • GitHub
  • GitLab
  • Sourcetree
  • Beanstalk
  • PerForce
  • Mercurial

Our version control software of choice

Our go-to version control software is Sourcetree. Right. You might be thinking to yourself, why Sourcetree? Well, Sourcetree is simple yet very effective when managing code. It enables us to switch to updated copies within a matter of seconds. It notifies you when a colleague has updated a file meaning you can pull their changes down, which will add them to your current version.

Another great benefit of Sourcetree is the history of each file. The software practically does the job for you and tells you what was changed, when it was changed, and the time it was committed.

GitFlow is something that most version control systems have, although, in our opinion, the simplicity of Sourcretree outclasses the rest. Essentially it’s a graph that shows you when different people have updated a file. Each individual has their branch where it tracks their changes. Once the changes are complete, they are then merged into one file. If you have a quick browse at the image below, you can see a new branch, along with where they merge.

Git branches merging

 

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