24th July 2012
Version Control and why you should use it
There are many different types of versioning but the two main ones that are being used the most are Subversion (SVN) and GIT.
The Concept of Version Control
Version control works by setting up a central repository on a server or on a computer on your local network. Users can then connect to the repository and take a copy of the project and work on it on their local machines without having to worry about making changes to the same file as another user.
Once the user is happy with their changes to the file, they then commit these changes back to the central repository where it is checked against the previous version and updated. The old version of the file is stored just in case you need to revert to it one day.
If a file has been updated by another user and you are trying to update it too, the version control software will try and merge the two files together and if it can’t, it will store both copies and ask the user which version to commit to the repository.
Subversion allows you to work with other people on a project and easily roll back revisions on the live copy of a site. Its main purpose is for file versioning for web applications but it can be easily used with images and simple text documents like Word documents.
Further reading on SVN
GIT is a newer version control system than SVN and it has a large following in the open source world. The main difference with GIT is that it is a distributed version control system meaning that there isn’t one central code base. This means that users can pull different parts of the code if they only wish to work on one particular part of it, meaning they save time on downloading all the unnecessary files.
GIT isn’t very easy to pick up but once you’ve got your head around it, it can become a reliable tool.