Using Source Code Control For Your Project

Source Code Control is the process of using Version Control Software to manage computer program source code and other documents. It functions as a repository that saves your complete project, including all images, codes, files, and directories. It can record the entire history of your project, and allows you to track changes through the different versions of your files. It then enables you to compare your current document to any of its previous versions.

What can source code control do for your project?

If you are working with a series of files or directories, a source code control system can do several indispensable things for you.

  1. First of all, it can save the complete development history of your project. It tracks all the modifications and changes that were made to your files, while also recording the date when the file was changed, and who it was who made the changes.

  2. Secondly, source code control provides you with a more orderly way of keeping track of all changes through a revision numbering scheme, which indicates which version of a file is the most recent.

  3. Third, using source code control can help you undo changes to your files and retrieve past revisions. This is necessary should you decide that the current modifications are inappropriate, or if the changes have introduced new bugs to your system.

  4. Fourth, source code control can enable multiple users to work on a single file simultaneously, and assist with merging all the changes to the file. To do this, the users work on a local copy of the same code base. They can edit, break code, and fix bugs on their local copy, and when they are done, they can commit the changes back to the repository. The other users can then update their working copies based on the new version of the file.

  5. And finally, a source code control system also serves as a backup tool. If you accidentally deleted a file, you can always get the latest version from the repository.

What source code control can’t do for your project

Depending on the type of version control system you choose, there would be a number of limitations you have to deal with. One problem with most source code control software is that changes or modifications could be done to a file without noting why the change was applied. Source code control can’t stop this event, but it does prompt programmers to document changes when they commit them.

Also, when multiple users merge changes on a single file, conflicts may occur if different changes are applied to the same lines of text. Source code control can’t resolve the conflict on its own by choosing the correct modification, however it can identify it. The developers or users need to step in to resolve the conflict.

How do you know if you need to use source code control?

Source code control is an important tool in large, fast-changing projects with multiple users, or small projects with multiple source files. You may need to use source code control if you are a software developer working on program source code or a graphic artist working on images or illustrations. If you have files documenting various stages of a single file – for example, named logo-old, logo-new, logo-new2, and logo-final –  then you might need source code control to simply track the changes to your image or document.

You might also find it useful if you are managing collections of Word documents relating to a project. To save the Word documents, you probably use multiple storage devices for your backups. With source code control software, you can simply use the repository as your backup – not only will you take up less disk space, you can also enjoy the additional revision control tracking abilities of the version control software to boot!

In the book or magazine publishing industry, where many revisions of documents are made, source code control can help in managing the documents while keeping the latest version of the file readily available. Likewise, many web developers also find such systems useful for managing and deploying changes to .html and .css files.

Version Control

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