The purpose of version control is to allow software teams track changes to the code, while enhancing communication and collaboration between team members. Version control facilitates a continuous, simple way to develop software.
Version control enables teams to collaborate and streamline development to resolve conflicts and create a centralized location for code.
Source code acts as a single source of truth and a collection of a product’s knowledge, history, and solutions. Version control (or code revision control) serves as a safety net to protect the source code from irreparable harm, giving the development team the freedom to experiment without fear of causing damage or creating code conflicts. If developers code concurrently and create incompatible changes, version control identifies the problem areas so that team members can quickly revert changes to a previous version, compare changes, or identify who committed the problem code through the revision history. With version control systems, a software team can solve an issue before progressing further into a project. Through code reviews, software teams can analyze earlier versions to understand how a solution evolved.
Depending on a team’s specific needs, a version control system can be local, centralized, or distributed. A local version control system stores files within a local system. Centralized version control stores changes in a single server. A distributed version control system involves cloning a Git repository.
Software is developed to solve a user problem. Increasingly, these solutions have many different forms (e.g. mobile, embedded, SaaS) and run a variety of environments, such as cloud, on-prem, or Edge. As organizations accelerate delivery of their software solutions through DevOps, controlling and managing different versions of application artifacts - from code to configuration and from design to deployment - becomes increasingly difficult. Velocity without robust version control and traceability is like driving a car without a seatbelt.
Version control facilitates coordination, sharing, and collaboration across the entire software development team. Version control software enables teams to work in distributed and asynchronous environments, manage changes and versions of code and artifacts, and resolve merge conflicts and related anomalies.
There are several source code management options that can help your team streamline development. The three most well-known options are Git, SVN, and Mercurial.
Ready to learn more about version control? Here are a few resources to help you get started on your journey.
Discover how code review and source code management streamline collaboration →
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Discover a Git branching strategy to simplify software development →
Version control best practices eBook to accelerate delivery →
Read how version control and collaboration builds a strong DevOps foundation →
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