What is version control?

What is version control?

Version control is a system that records changes to documents, databases or any other number of digital assets. These changes are stored with time stamps and can be used to go back to previous versions at any time. This helps you track revisions and restore files if needed. It is the best way to manage code while collaborating with team members. Git is an open source version control system designed for managing smaller projects with frequent code commits. It’s fast, powerful and easy to use. Git comes preinstalled on Mac, Linux and Windows so you don’t need to install anything new if you use one of these operating systems. Let’s understand what Git version control is and how it improves your workflow by reading this article.

Why use Git? #

Git is an excellent version control system with a huge user base. Many companies, including Facebook, Google, and Microsoft use it for their code sharing and collaboration. GitHub is the most popular SaaS for collaborating on code using Git. It’s a centralised hub that lets you easily share code with team members. GitHub also offers a free plan that lets you use most of the features. If you have a small team then it’s the best way to start using Git and GitHub. GitHub also offers Paid plans for teams with more advanced needs. In addition to using git for code collaboration, you can also use it for managing and tracking issues, publishing documentation, and more. You can use these as standalone tools or integrate them with your Git repositories.

How Does Git Work? #

Git manages changes to a project’s source code over time. A Git repository stores the history of a project and enables you to track who made changes and when. Git is distributed, which means code and content are stored on computers all over the world. Each computer has a full copy of the code and a full copy of the history. Git is a content-addressable filesystem, which means each file is identified by a cryptographic hash of its contents. The same file will always have the same hash, even if the file’s name, location, or other details change. This makes it easy to find and compare specific versions of a file.

Installing and setting up Git #

If you’re on Windows, you can install a GUI client from the official Git website. You can also download a dedicated Windows Command Line Client. Git is an open source software, which means you can download it for free. You can download it from the official website. Follow the prompts to install it on your computer. You will need to select the default installation directory. Once installed, open your terminal or command prompt and navigate to the directory where you want to start using Git. For MacOS or Linux users, you can simply type `git` in the terminal window to open the Git command. GitHub provides a quick start guide to help you get started with Git. You can follow the steps on the tutorial to create an account and begin using Git.

Understanding the Basics of Git #

Let’s walk through the process of creating and committing files with Git. Git starts with a clean slate, with no files committed to the repository. To create your first file, type `touch file1.txt` in the terminal window. Next, open your text editor and enter a sentence, then save the file. You have now created a new file and saved a new sentence in the file. Now, open the Git command prompt window and type `git add .` This adds the file to be committed with the `git commit` command.

Merging Changes with Merge Commits #

Merge commits are used to combine changes from multiple branches into one single commit. For example, your team is working on the same project, but on different branches. You have a designer, a developer, and a tester working on the same project. But, they are on different branches. The designer is working on the feature “Create a Landing Page”, the developer is working on feature “Create a Product Page”. While the tester is testing the feature “Create a Product Listing Page”. What happens if the developer completes his task, but the designer is still working? Or, what if the tester encounters an error during testing? In this case, you will have multiple branches with inconsistent code. Merge commits can be used to combine changes from the different branches into one single commit. Let’s say the designer completed his task, but the developer is still working on his feature. You can select the designer’s commit and the developer’s commit, then use the “Squash and Merge” option to combine the commits into one single commit.

Rebasing: An Alternative to Merging #

Rebasing is an alternative to merging. It moves the code from the developer’s branch to the master branch. The codes are combined, and merged in the master branch. Rebasing is used when the team wants to keep all the commits in the developer’s branch while still moving the code to the master branch.

Limiting the Number of Versions Preserved With `git filter-branch` #

Git stores all the version control commits. If your project has a large number of commits, then you may want to remove some of these commits. You can use the `git filter-branch` command for this. It lets you use regular expressions to find commits, then replace these commits with nothing. You can also use it to remove or add commits. For example, if you want to remove the first commit, then you need to execute the following code: git filter-branch –tree-filter “rm -rf .” — –all The same command can be used to remove a single commit. You just need to add the commit hash number instead of the asterisk.

Conclusion #

Git is a distributed version control system that lets you track changes to code and collaborate with your team. It’s easy to install and use, and is free to use for most projects, thanks to hosting platforms like GitHub. If you’re a new coder, it’s important to understand how version control systems work, and the benefits they provide, in order to maximise your productivity and efficiency.

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