Why use version controlling tool like GIT in Web development

By Responsive DAD     |

Why use version controlling tool like GIT in Web development

Ever wondered what version controllers were and what do they do. Here is a brief look at version controllers (esp. GIT) and how they help designers, developers, hobbyists and other who deal with code work better.

Version control: What’s that?

Control over the changes done to code is known as version control. It seems to evolve from revision control that are embedded functions in an editor or code manipulator to get previous changes. From there it evolved into a standalone program solution that can do many helping functions and archive code changes.

You can picture version control as revisions made to books. There are in course of time changes made to the same content, making it more efficient and functional. Similarly, version control is most logical way of storing changes or snapshots (to techies), made to code. From a programmer or designer point of view it is both a schedule and lifeline for their products/projects. Changes being recorded daily and easy references to what made that code break.

Now let’s look how version control helps the code development in general,

  1. Track the project and works being done on it
    • It is a basic schedule for what is being done. We can see that new changes are “Pushed” into the project directory. Each push requires copying the whole directory into the local directory and making changes on them. Every day or every time a change is done the code is being pushed, each push is indexed, and cataloged into the version control library. Later it is merged with the main project and reviewed.
    • By looking at the project it is easy to see how much of the project is completed, where the last advancements were made, and who are working at the project. This is the simplest way the schedule of the project can be read at a glance.
  2. Never miss any updates done by your team mates
    • You will always receive the most updated code. By precedence if your teammate commits changes before you, you will only be given chance to commit your changes if your teammates changes are downloaded and you have them in your changes. This is a crucial step in version controlling so that no overwrites or breaking is caused from old code. You and your teammates will be happy taking those extra steps for version controlling and sure that you will have the latest copy of the project you are working on. Your team will never have volatile situationwhere teammatecorrupts whole project by making changes to an old file.
  3. Have a clear idea of who and some clue why the change was made
    • While committing changes the authoring data like date time and name will be pressed in with the commit. Also in GIT and similar softwares there is a provision for entering description to commits, this will help your teammates and you have an idea why the commit was made and when.
  4. Distributed locally saved copy of main repository for safe measure and offline editing
    • The main advantage of using GIT is that the code is stored as distributed machine and not centrally (can be done centrally – optional). This brings in the advantage of code security. Even if the code at different systems get corrupted or lost, there will be other systems that will save the day with the most updated code.
    • The developer who gets his code corrupted can get the code on any other supported device and re-download/update the whole project.
  5. The issues can be tracked to changes made
    • As said before the issues to newer functionalities being committed into the new project can be tracked. We can see how and what steps solved or caused a problem. That commit can be specifically concentrated to solve and study an issue.
    • As there is a systematic approach here, there are no assumptions. We will have a clear idea of what is been actively worked on and where changes are required.
  6. Central access to all collaborative work
    • There is option to host your code online on many platforms like GitHub, Mercurial, apache subversion etc. They claim to have almost 100% uptime and large bandwidths for transfers. We can also opt for private directories that are protected to your team or just you under passwords.
    • By using a service like this we have an additional security that there is another safe copy in cloud storage and delivery of code can be done through SSH protocol functionality to where the original project resides. (Advantages of living in the modern age!)
    • Do you have any suggestions or want experts on web development, to collaborate on your ideas or projects – visit us at ResponsiveDAD.
  7. Make features and branch out and decide later whether to include them in main product
    • Why is GIT or similar software very popular, because it can do branching, i.e., you can develop newer functionality from the main projects optimize these branches on your pace and later merge it with the main project or trunk. That’s awesome right, but the property that makes it more cool is that many branches can be simultaneously worked on by you and your teammates and later merged in at any point of time without overwriting or losing the branch coded by you or your team.
  8. Sharing code and collaborating for a new feature
    • As discussed earlier, you can have your team working on the current project, what’s better is when the project is public, other coders can look into your code and they can comment, fork (act of copying the project to their directory/system) and you get to give back to others. Mostly will become to you and the developing community.
    • As proverb says “two brains are better than one” (citation needed), you will soon realize you have a knowledge base of all the coders who are forking or commenting on your project.
  9. Handle Continuous requirement changes with Fast prototypes/merging.
    • This is a hack; if your client has the habit of continuously changing the course of his project due to lack of knowledge or priorities, you may fall victim to something known as “non-commitance or flight behavior”. You start something off, the client tells you, you need to concentrate on some other functionality or part of project to move at the earliest, then another, then another. Not only will you not be able to finish coding in all the functionalities he has required you to do, but you will lose track of the projects flow and time taken to code the required features.
    • Instead using a standalone software like GIT you actively make branches for every unique-main requirement that the client has and move on with the coding and late requirements. When the client requirements have something really important to finish in earliest calls, you concentrate on those branches and merge them with the project as your deadline approaches. Doing so at request you will have more functionality to show and won’t miss out on any of the client’s requirements.
    • In long run you can ask teammates to work on the branches/other functionality and you can concentrate on your set of branches. This will produce working prototypes or finished products faster with changing requirements.
  10. Additional insurance on time and money invested
    • As we all know time and effort put into developing a project is crucial and success of a project depends on this. So why not insure your projects by having a safety net of version control. You will be delighted that all the time invested in coding and the effort you spend on the project will be safe locally, on team machines and hosted as a copy in a server.
    • You can sleep easy in the thought that one of the methods you have opted will survive in any possible case of grief. Its better safe than sorry.

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