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HomeArticlesWhat is Version Control and why do Software Engineers use it?

What is Version Control and why do Software Engineers use it?

Every time someone is working on a project, safety and visibility are two traits that are wanted. These characteristics are relevant to all endeavors, including developing and delivering a SaaS product as well as creating a novel recipe or constructing a tall apartment complex.

We desire the security of knowing that our activities won’t have long-lasting, negative consequences and constant visibility into the project’s progress. Version control enters the picture in this case.

Software engineers may build and update programs safely by using version control, which also provides visibility into the code that other developers are changing.

What is Version Control?

We’ve discussed some of the benefits of version control, including safety and visibility. But first, we must define what version control is. Version control is the process of monitoring and controlling changes to software code. Because it refers to version control as a technique rather than a particular instrument, this definition enables us to comprehend it.

Version control can be done in a variety of ways and with a variety of technologies. Duplicating code bases into directories on a server that have been time-stamped could be enough to implement version control. Although it is a dated strategy, it is nonetheless a strategy. Distributed version control utilizing tools like Git is a more popular and often used solution for version management.

The visibility of knowing who made what changes when and being able to undo changes if they are harmful or hazardous are the key advantages of integrating version control into your development process. Our two project management needs—safety and visibility—are satisfied by version control. Let’s examine a couple version control models in more detail.

What is Version Control
What is Version Control?

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Benefits of Version Control

1. Simplify Branching and Merging

Team members should obviously work together, but even individuals working alone might benefit from being able to concentrate on different streams of change. Developers and DevOps engineers can keep different streams of work distinct while yet having the opportunity to merge them back together to guarantee that their changes don’t clash by defining a branch in VCS tools.

For every feature, every release, or both, the branching technique is utilized by many software development teams. Teams can choose from a variety of workflow options when determining how to use a VCS’s branching and merging features.

2. Review and Play around with the Code

In the present era, source code is always being developed. There are ever more features that can be added, more users to reach, and more apps that can be developed. Teams typically use different main project clones when working on software projects to build new features, test them, and make sure they function before submitting them to the main project. This could save time because different parts of the code can be developed simultaneously.

3. Keep a Record of all Code Modifications.

The group in charge of the project routinely produces fresh source codes and modifies the current code. In order to identify the true cause of a particular issue, these adjustments are maintained on file for potential use and can be consulted as appropriate. You and new contributors may find it simpler to understand how a certain code section came to be if you have a record of the modifications made in a particular code file. This is essential for working well with older code and enabling engineers to accurately forecast future work.

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4. Access the Complete Long-term Change History of Every File.

This refers to all changes made over time by various parties. Changes include things like adding and removing files as well as altering content. Different VCS programs handle file renaming and movement differently. The author, the time, and textual notes detailing the justification for each modification in this history should also be included.

When resolving problems with software that is more than a few years old, the ability to examine prior revisions assists for the root cause analysis of errors. If something is still being developed, almost everything can be considered a “earlier version” of the software.

5. Acquire the Capability to Work Offline

The majority of work can be done on the go, away from home, or at an office since pushing and pulling cannot be done using a distributed version control system without an internet connection. Contributors can view the running history on their hard drives and make changes to the repository.

With more adaptability, the team can fix defects with a single change-set, boosting the productivity of developers. With a local copy, developers can complete common development activities fast. Developers can avoid having to wait on a server for routine tasks with a DVCS, which might delay delivery and be annoying.

6. Produce Routine and Automatic Backups

The biggest benefit of adopting a version control system is that contributors can effectively create backups of the repository’s most recent versions whenever they copy a repository. In the event of a server failure, we can prevent the loss of the data by maintaining many backups on different workstations.

A distributed version control system increases development reliability because it doesn’t rely on a single backup like a centralized version control system does. Having many copies won’t take up much space on your hard disk, despite the fact that this is a common misconception because most development is done with plain text files and most systems compress data.

7. Use Open Avenues for Communication.

Version control promotes transparency and consistency across teams and coworkers by allowing for the exchange of code and the ability to follow previous work. It enables more uncomplicated process coordination amongst the various team members. This improved communication has consequences.

Effective workflow coordination enables team members to work more productively. They can operate in accord and rhythm and handle changes more easily. This depicts the large team as a single unit working together to accomplish a certain goal.

8. Create Management Summaries

Version control helps management receive a complete picture of how the project is progressing. They are aware of who is in charge of making the changes, what they are supposed to achieve once they are finished, and how the adjustments will effect the document’s overall goal. It assists management in identifying recurring problems that certain team members may contribute to.

9. Maintain Legal Compliance

Version control offers precise change tracking, which is an excellent approach to get your records, files, datasets, and/or documents prepared for compliance. Keeping a thorough audit trail is crucial for effective risk management. Every component of a project needs to adhere to regulations. It necessitates identifying team members who have database access and taking responsibility for any modifications.

10. Increase Developer Output

Version management guarantees the project’s smooth progression. Teams can work together to streamline complex processes, allowing for greater automation, consistency, and the gradual rollout of updated versions of these intricate operations. When bugs are discovered, the upgraded versions enable programmers to roll back to an earlier version. Going back to a previous version makes testing easier because issues are found earlier and have less of an impact on users.

11. Minimize Blunders and Duplication

Version control can avoid the existence of many out-of-date copies of the same document. This will reduce errors caused by information that is presented inconsistently across different papers. After the examination is finished, absolute versions of the documents should be changed to “read-only” status. It will limit the alterations that can be made and reduce the likelihood of future errors.

Types of Version Control

Local Version Control

The most fundamental type of version control that an individual developer can use is local version control. Every change to a file is recorded as a patch in a local version control system, which is a local database on your local computer. The database of patches is kept centrally on your computer for local version control.

With its usage of the word patch, this definition of version control poses an intriguing issue. You do not save the entire project or file when you make a change to a file and want to store it. Instead, you merely include the differences between two or more files, or the diff. The original and updated files would be these two files, and the diff would only have two lines of code to indicate what had changed.

Although it has many flaws, local version control is preferable to none at all. It is not particularly resilient, to start. Your local machine stores all changes and the records of those changes. All of your work, checks, and code will be lost forever if your machine stops working.

The other difficulty is that local version control does not encourage developer cooperation. Others will require access to your machine in order to perform the necessary modifications if they want to access your code changes. Local version control is not a collaborative or resilient method of version control, but it does at least allow solo developers peace of mind in that they are tracking changes.

Centralized Version Control

Some of the collaborative problems local version control brings up are resolved by centralized version control. All program code patches are kept on a distant server as opposed to being kept on the user’s PC. It is possible for several users to access and change the code by putting all code patches on a remote server. Microsoft Team Foundation Server is a popular centralized version control technology.

What is Version Control
What is Version Control?

Centralized version control is a drawback. Users can only access the most recent version of the program they are working on. Users would only be able to work with the data they have on their computers in the event that the remote server were corrupted or destroyed. While centralized version control addresses the issue of collaboration, it does not address the problem of robustness.

Distributed Version Control

Distributed version control is most likely something you have used if you have ever been a part of a modern software engineering team. Git and Bitbucket are two examples of the software used to implement this version control. This version control overcomes the collaboration issue by storing all the code on a remote repository, accessible by any authorized user. Additionally, it resolves the problem of user access to the collection of patches’ resilience.

Distributed version control returns all of the program’s patches, as opposed to simply the most recent one. This implies that every user who works on a project will have access to its whole history on their local machine. The ability for every user to push their local copy of the application back to the server to serve as a backup helps prevent project corruption or deletion. Distributed version control is actually collaborative and robust.

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What Advantages does Git Offer?

We have covered the two concerns solved by version control, namely, the distributed version control utilized by git. Let’s explore in more detail how this software aids in the effective coding of software by engineering teams. The most recent software shouldn’t merely be kept in one location thanks to version control. It is a collaborative tool that increases the skills of teams and programmers.

Many developers can work on many features at once thanks to tools like git. You can work on a payment service while another developer creates an issue center feature using branches, or customized versions of the main software.

The issue center is unknown to your version, so this is irrelevant. You resolve disagreements or places where your code diverges from the main program when you both wish to add your software to the live app by merging your branches into the main branch. Since practically all activities may be finished concurrently, the ability for multiple developers to work on the same piece of code simultaneously provides for rapid production.

Version control enables parallel feature development as well as more effective code reviews and change documentation. A pull request must be filed each time a developer wants to merge their code from the feature branch into the main program. This establishes a specific forum for talking about the suggested feature. Senior developers can provide advice on how to fix or enhance functionality, make code more readable, and ensure that it follows best practices.

The code for the feature appears as a set of differences that reviewers and future developers can see. These diffs outline the intended modifications as well as the precise code that was modified. If a feature has unintended consequences later in its lifecycle, being able to identify when things were changed and why is essential for code audits and bug hunting.

What is Version Control
What is Version Control?

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Git used? What is it?

Git is a version control tool used to monitor changes made to digital assets. In software development, it is typically used for source code management. Git is a tool for monitoring source code changes. The distributed version control technology is employed for managing source code.

What distinguishes Git from GitHub?

While GitHub is a location where copies of a Git repository can be uploaded, Git is a program used to manage multiple versions of source code updates that are then transferred to files in a Git repository. So in a way, there isn't really a comparison between the functions of Git and GitHub.

How does versioning operate?

Every time you produce a new version, version numbers are automatically applied. Major versioning-enabled lists and libraries have versions with whole numbers, such as 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and so forth. Your administrator might make versioning for both major and minor versions available in libraries.

Conclusion

Git-style version control is essential for recording when and why features were introduced, as well as who programmed and assessed the changes. These advantages enable rapid, effective, and targeted feature releases.

Version control is just one of the tools a software developer needs. It is a way to construct databases and user interfaces securely while keeping track of the work being done by other developers in your project team. Instead than being isolated from version control, these talents are expanded by it.

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