Version control: secure your code!
These tools combine backup, change history and contribution ledger for your software projects.
05 April 2019
When developing any kind of software the source code is your most valuable asset, which unlocks much more than just the continuous development, operation and maintenance of your application.
Whether you have programmers in-house or outsourced to an agency or freelancers, you want to have access to your code and insight who does what and when at all times. Version control is what enables you to do just that, without the need of complicated systems or tech know-how.
Especially with the strong influence of agile concepts into modern workflows, version control systems are mandatory in todays world.
What is version control?
A version control system, in the context of software development, is simply a platform that stores the source code of your application, and logs every contribution to it. It can also include instructions on how to install your software, troubleshooting or any other document added by developers.
Another important aspect of version control is providing a structured and secure way to deploy applications into separate environments. For example you could have your developers contribute updates, then have the quality assurance team test in in a private environment and after that deploy it to the public environment for your customers.
In conclusion version control systems aim to enable you:
- to have access to all programming code of your software, and to control who else has access and to what
- to see every contribution made to your application in detail, including from who and when
- to use your application in different environments, for example testing and public without overlapping
Additionally for complex software projects there are a multitude of more features most version control implementations offer to enable experienced developers doing their work more efficiently.
What programs for version control are there?
Over the time multiple organizations and companies developed different implementations of the software version control concepts, many have since been discontinued and others still thrive today.
By market share the biggest version control system is GIT, which is a distributed software first developed by Linus Torvalds, the inventor of the Linux operating system, in 2015. GIT is widely used in software development due to its simplicity and feature richness, as well as the multitude of commercial adaptions making it easy for companies to leverage the GIT ecosystem.
Another open-source version control platform is subversion, which is managed by the Apache foundation and incorporates many code revision features as well as support for an agile workflow.
Also often used is Mercurial, which was developed around the same time as GIT. With a focus on scalability and an decentralised approach it is a flavour of version control many developers appreciate for their daily work.
Where can I get version control?
While many version control systems are open source and can be downloaded, installed and operated on-premise for individual and commercial use, the dominant platform is GIT.
That is mostly due to the fact that GIT is incredibly accessible for tech and non-tech people, with a multitude of easy to start and use platforms like github, bitbucket or gitlab.
These platforms unlock all of the built-in features of GIT and often add proprietary components like communities, documentations, ticket system and project management tools.
Some products like gitlab can be downloaded and operated on-premise, others like Github and Atlassians bitbucket are managed and accessible only as Software as a Service.
These managed version control platforms are often free for individuals and small teams, and have competitive pricing for commercial use.
Additionally many cloud operators have their own hosted GIT products, like Amazons CloudCommit or Googles SourceRepositories. This can be an ideal option for customers who already use these cloud platforms to operate their websites and apps.
If you are wondering whether you should integrate version control or code revision systems into your workflow contact our digital consultants for an expert insight into the benefits for your business. We will get back to you in no time by filling out the form below or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.