What is Version Control?
Version control systems are Software tools that help a software development team manage changes to source code over time. Version control software keeps track of every modification to the code. If a mistake is made, developers can turn back and compare earlier versions of the code to help fix the mistake while minimizing disruption to other team members.
Software developers working in teams are continually writing new source code and changing existing source code. The code is typically organized in a folder structure. One developer on the team may be working on a new feature while another developer fixes an unrelated bug by changing code, each developer may make their changes in several parts.
Version control helps teams track every individual change by each contributor and help prevent concurrent work from conflicting. Changes made in one part of the code can be incompatible with those made by another developer working at the same time. Good version control systems facilitate a smooth and continuous flow of changes to the code.
Teams that do not use any form of version control often run into problems like not knowing which changes that have been made are available to users or the creation of incompatible changes between two unrelated pieces of work that must then be untangled and reworked. Version control software is an essential part of the every-day of the software team's professional practices.
Benefits of version control
Developing software without using version control is risky. Version control can also enable developers to move faster and it allows teams to preserve efficiency and agility.
The primary benefits of a Version Control System are as follows.
Ø A complete long-term change history of every file : Every change made by many individuals to file or files is available. Changes include the creation and deletion of files as well as edits to their contents. Having the complete history enables going back to previous versions to help in root cause analysis for bugs and it is crucial when needing to fix problems in older versions of software.
Ø Branching and merging : 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.
Ø Traceability : 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.
While it is possible to develop software without using any version control, doing so subjects the project to a huge risk that no professional team would be advised to accept. So the question is not whether to use version control but which version control system to use.