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It is rare that a single person is responsible for coding medium- or large-scale software projects. These days, teams – both local and geographically dispersed – develop software.

A while back, developers used to be physically centralized, sitting near in the same office. They communicated directly to add files. Although it is clear that modifying documents for team-based application development needs greater structure than a single file does, deployment of a system that protects the master document while offering maximum productivity is tricky.


What Is Version Control?

Version control, also referred to as source control, is the practice of managing and tracking changes in code. Version control systems are software tools that allow software teams to handle changes to source code over time. The acceleration of development environments means that version control systems enable software teams to work smartly and quickly. This is especially ideal for the DevOps team, minimizing development time and increasing successful deployments.

Version control software tracks every modification in the code to a specific type of database. In case of an error, developers can go back and review earlier versions of the code to fix their mistakes and reduce disruption to other team members.

A strong version control system introduces much-needed clarity. It reviews software by clarifying what changed, who changed, and when it was changed.


Best Version Control Practices

For a digital entity to develop strategically and consistently, it is imperative to use best version control practices. Gaining an in-depth understanding of how to use version control collaboratively and acquiring the relevant software development skills will empower organizations to get a host of benefits. Here are some of the best ones:


1.  Agree On a Workflow

Through a version control system like Git, you can opt from various workflows: topic branches, long-running branches, merge or rebase, git-flow. What workflow you choose is dependent on a broad array of factors: your project, your overall development, deployment workflows, and your member’s personal preferences. Whatever you end up with, see to it that everyone is on the same page for the workflow.


2.  Commit Changes Atomically

Commit changes atomically is one of the best version control practices. Files from a commit can be either committed together or none at all. Other users should not have to see incomplete or partial modifications. A check-in is akin to a database transaction that is explained in terms of ACID properties.

Commit files belonging to an activity with a certain operation and maintain the project consistently on a regular basis. It is necessary to use best practices for commits. A good-quality commit will enhance your project, boosting your productivity and success.


3.  Coordinate With Your Co-Workers

The version control system can merge changes that multiple people made at the same time. But, a “conflict” arises when two people edit the same line. Next, it must be resolved manually. To prevent this error-prone work, you need to steer clear of conflicts.

If you are looking to make major changes to a file that is being edited by others, collaborate with them in order to complete work (commit and push) before others start working. This is the ideal way to prevent conflicts.


4.  Remember the Lined-Based Tools

Version control tools track changes and evaluate conflicts on a line-by-line basis.  This is useful for editing marked-up text like HTML and LaTeX. However, this will not work with WYSIWYG text where the readers review the actual source file.

Avoid refilling paragraphs. This way, you can change every line in the paragraph, which makes it difficult to determine later when one of the commit affects the provided content.

As a rule of thumb, avoid writing excessively long lines and keep each line to 80 characters. By having more characters on a line, you increase the possibility of different edits using the same line, causing conflict.


5.  Write Good Commit Messages

Writing good commit messages can be more effective than you think. A good commit message references the issue ID. Each commit should describe why the change was made. This makes it easy for team members to identify the objective behind the commit.


6.  Create Branches

Creating branches is one of the most excellent features of version control. It helps you to avoid confusing your workflow with someone else’s. By default, a master branch is present in all repositories. To create a new one, just use git checkout –b [branch name]master command.

Bear in mind that some editors like VS code are useful for version control functions too. There are different ways to create branches in software development. Usually, developers make new branches as bug fixes wise or feature-wise. Do make sure that you are working on the correct branch before starting your work. 


7.  Use .gitignore Smartly

.gitignore file is a type of plain text file where each line consists of a pattern for files/directories to ignore. When you add a file to .gitignore, it is not committed in your remote or local repository. Usually, node_modules are not committed to the repository and for that, node_modules directory is added to .gitignore file. This way, you can ensure that unwanted things are not committed to your repositories.


Final Thoughts

Version control ensures that your code ships fast and is clean. If you stick to the above-mentioned best version control practices, you can make sure your team follows good code hygiene.

These practices are your insurance against difficult-to-code and messy code, saving you from spending countless hours identifying the source of issues,

If your code-base is all over the place, reach out to us and let us implement version control systems.

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