Version Control: A Primer

In her post A Gentle Introduction to Version Control, Julie Meloni gives a very easy to ready walk through of version control. Version control is all about maintaining the versions and revisions of your work as you are developing it. With good documentation, you can bring back old code you previously removed, or look at issues you had in your program in the past to see if that might be relevant to current issues. There are a lot of benefits to maintaining good version control.

Version control can also be useful in a classroom setting. I can recall multiple assignments this year where we used multiple commits with different labels for different assignment levels. In this way, the instructor could look at code from an earlier part of the assignment even when it had to be modified for a later part of the assignment.

Good version control also leaves you with backups if you want to revert to an earlier version of your program. Say you accidentally release an update with a major bug that slips through, you can quickly revert to an earlier version so you can fix whatever issues there are. You can use branches when you want to split off development into different directions and move the changes to main part of your program once you are satisfied, and you can use version control to help avoid any situations where there are conflicting commits.

I agree with Julie when she points out that version control has use in most business and private settings. Really, keeping good documentation of revisions of all documents can help organize your projects and keep them easily modified and reverted. For instance, if you are keeping a financial spreadsheet, but want to save it every month so you can track the differences over time, it is essential to use good version control to keep track of the revisions to the document. Or if you make modifications to a contract, but want to maintain copies of the older versions for legal reasons. Really, good version control is just part of good organization and allowing yourself to work with all the tools at your disposal. You work hard, there is no reason to throw it away.

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