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Use version control to improve development workflows

Thursday, August 9th, 2012 by Servage

Version control aka revision control is a way to make sure you follow the development and changes within your project and files. It is designed to help you understand changes, work on separate features, combine different versions of the same code, or go back and revert to older code if problems occur. All in all, version control is really something you should use to improve your development workflows.

Dropbox – the simple choice

Dropbox is a file syncing service which automatically syncs all changes you make in files to a central server, and keeps copies of them including change history. Dropbox is not a real version control system like the more professional ones, but it certainly suffices for smaller projects, especially if you are only one developer. The biggest drawback is that two can’t work on the same file at once, while the biggest advantage is the ease of use and quick install. You don’t really have to change the way you work.

Git and Subversion

These two options are professional versioning control systems. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and just like the many other decisions in the computer world, this looks more like a religious one ;-) What both systems can do, is to work with a current copy of the code, where you currently develop. You can then sort your different versions of the code base into branches, using branches as containers for certain development versions or individual features. When done with the particular development, you can merge branches back together, and get the new release code. The drawbacks of these systems are that it takes time to learn and get used to. It introduces simple, but still new steps into your development workflow. The advantage is that you get powerful tools to mange your code, which may prove to be extremely valuable in the future.

No matter what you do, you should use version control. It will make your life easier.

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