Version Control software (VCS) is a management strategy to track and store changes to a software development document or set of files that follow the development project from beginning to end. In software development, many of the systems allow different levels of collaboration and communication for a team of developers while writing the code. A strong VCS can provide clarity when reviewing software by clarifying what was changed, by whom, and when. Generally, VCS solutions work to provide a logical format to track the development progress while maintaining detailed changes, and also have the ability to revert to previous versions.
Why it's important?
Today, a team of developers is always busy to build software. So, code version control provides a constant communication vehicle for the team, whether they are in the same room or around the globe. The system provides a logical method that preserves the individual contributions of team members without overwriting another developer's work, and then implement the changes and updates. The system is also a failsafe for finding and supporting issues that are in conflict. The records can be used to track down problem origins or archive versions for later use. Even if a developer is working alone, the system provides the defensive record keeping of progress and process. The preservation of valuable information and past work is possible with a sound VCS.
Version control tools
Version control tools are a great way to enable collaboration, maintain versions, and track changes across the team. The greatest benefit of using version control tools is that you have the capacity to deal with an unlimited number of people, working on the same code base, without having to make sure that files are delivered back and forth. In making your setup easier, we enlist the most popular and most preferred open-source version control systems and tools.
Git is considered to be a newer, and faster-emerging star when it comes to version control systems. First developed by the creator of Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds, Git has begun to take the community for web development and system administration by storm, offering a largely different form of control. There is no singular centralized code base that the code can be pulled from, and different branches are responsible for hosting different areas of the code. As a fast and efficient system, many system administrators and open-source projects use Git to power their repositories.
SVN or Subversion is generally the version control system that has the widest adoption. Most forms of open-source projects will use Subversion because many other large products such as Ruby, Python Apache, and more use it. Google Code even uses SVN as a way of exclusively distributing code. Many different clients for Subversion are available. If you use Windows, then Tortoise SVN may be a great browser for editing, viewing and modifying Subversion code bases. If you’re using a MAC then Versions could be your ideal client.
CVS may very well be where version control systems started. Released initially in 1986, Google still hosts the original Usenet post that announced CVS. It's used just about everywhere - however, the base for codes is not as feature rich as other solutions such as SVN. CVS is not too difficult to learn. It comes with a simple system that ensures revisions and files are kept updated. Given the other options, CVS may be regarded as an older form of technology, as it has been around for some time, it is still incredibly useful for system admins who want to backup and share files.
This is another form of version control system, similar to Git. It was designed initially as a source for larger development programs, often outside of the scope of most system admins, independent web developers and designers. That doesn’t mean smaller teams and individuals can’t use it. Mercurial is a very fast and efficient application. The creators designed the software with performance as the core feature. The functions are less complicated, and more comparable to other CVS systems. It also comes alongside a web-interface and various extensive documentation that can help you to understand it easily.
Similar to Git and Mercurial, Bazaar is distributed version control system, which also provides a great, friendly user experience. Bazaar is unique in that it can be deployed either with a central code base or as a distributed code base. It's the most versatile version control system that supports various different forms of workflow, from centralized to decentralized, and with a number of different variations acknowledged throughout. You can access a very detailed level of control in its setup. Bazaar can be used to fit in with almost any scenario and this is incredibly useful for most projects and admins because it is so easy to adapt and deal with. It can also be easily embedded into projects that already exist. Bazaar boasts a large community that helps with the maintenance of third-party tools and plugins.
Perforce, sometimes referred to as Perforce Software, is a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based developer of software used for application development, including version control software, web-based repository management, developer collaboration, application lifecycle management and Agile planning software. The software is sold under the Helix and Hansoft brand names. Perforce Software was founded in 1995 in Alameda, California by Christopher Seiwald, a software developer and computer science graduate from UC Berkeley. In January 2018, the company was acquired by private equity firm Clearlake Capital.
Darcs is a distributed version control system created by David Roundy. Key features include the ability to choose which changes to accept from other repositories, interaction with either other local (on-disk) repositories or remote repositories via SSH, HTTP, or email, and an unusually interactive interface. It was initially released on March 3, 2003.
Monotone is an open source software tool for distributed revision control. It tracks revisions to files, groups sets of revisions into changesets, and tracks history across renames. The focus of the project is on integrity over performance. Monotone is designed for distributed operation and makes heavy use of cryptographic primitives to track file revisions (via the SHA-1 secure hash) and to authenticate user actions (via RSA cryptographic signatures).
BitKeeper is a software tool for distributed revision control of computer source code. Originally proprietary software, it was released as open-source software under the Apache 2.0 license on 9 May 2016. BitKeeper is produced by BitMover Inc., a privately held company based in Los Gatos, California and owned by its CEO, Larry McVoy, who had previously designed TeamWare.
Benefits of version control
Software tools that help a software team manage changes to source code over time. Version control software keeps track of every modification to the code in a special kind of database.
For most software teams, the source code is a repository of the invaluable knowledge and understanding of the problem domain that the developers have collected and refined through careful effort.
Version control protects source code from both catastrophe and the casual degradation of human error and unintended consequences.
Version control helps to prevent work conflicting problems, tracking every individual change by each contributor and helping prevent concurrent work from conflicting.
Changes made in one part of the software can be incompatible with those made by another developer working at the same time. This problem should be discovered and solved in an orderly manner without blocking the work of the rest of the team.
Good version control software supports a developer's preferred workflow without imposing one particular way of working.
It also works on any platform, rather than dictate what operating system or toolchain developers must use.
Different VCS tools differ on how well they handle renaming and moving of files. This history should also include the author, date and written notes on the purpose of each change.
Creating a "branch" in VCS tools keeps multiple streams of work independent from each other while also providing the facility to merge that work back together, enabling developers to verify that the changes on each branch do not conflict.
Being able to trace each change made to the software and connect it to project management and bug tracking software such as Jira, and being able to annotate each change with a message describing the purpose and intent of the change can help not only with root cause analysis and other forensics.
A hosted VCS provides tools to capture measurements like - new features deployed, code creation velocity, time in development, bugs created and fixed, and more.
VCS can be configured with many extensions to help streamline the code review and delivery process. Things like automated builds, tests, and deployments can be orchestrated in a simple config-as-code YAML file.