What Is Version Control

Definition

Version control is a practice of managing and keeping track of all the changes made to a software's source code. With version control, all the changes are stored or tracked. So, if a developer makes a mistake while updating the code, they can quickly refer back to the previous versions of the code and pinpoint the mistakes.

Version control is also known as source control, revision control, or source code management.

Use Cases and Examples

In a large project, multiple developers work on the same source code. Some are adding new features, while others are working on bug fixes and other issues. There are always chances that changes made in one part of the code might not be compatible with those made in the other part by another developer.

In such a situation, the progress of the whole team can be compromised. Similarly, making new changes to software or code can also bring new bugs. So, development, testing, and deployment should proceed continuously and in parallel form.

This is where version control software comes into action. A good version control software keeps track of all the changes made by all developers as part of the source code. Hence anyone with a copy of the source code also has a tracked history of changes made by other developers.

Version control software is usually paired up with a cloud hosting in the cloud meant to be the single source of truth where all developers send off the copy of their source code when they are done working on it. An example of such service includes BitBucket and Github.

Some well-known version control software out there includes Git, Apache Subversion, Mercurial, etc.

Summary

In the modern software development environment, version control software has become an integral part of the development process. Without version control, software teams will have a hard time tracking their changes or revert back to the original, better-performing version of their code.

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