Version Control Systems (VCS): Why so important?

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What is a Version Control System (VCS)?

Version Control Systems are basically a category of software tools that helps in saving and identifying the changes made in the files of computer programs, documents, or other collections of information so that it becomes easier to track those changes even after a long period of time. It becomes more interesting and useful for the developers because revisions can be restored.

Why there is so much demand for a Version Control System?

A Version Control System has always been the need of DEVs. In the early era when the teams were not that big then also maintaining the development logs of programming throughout the Software Development was not a piece of cake. It includes a lot and a lot of documentation and took a lot of time. Through the development of technology and working styles, a new kind of problem occurs that was when a team of developers working on a project, it may be possible that they are working from different locations and each one of them has to contribute to some kind of features, then sharing of codes for discussion and merging becomes a tedious job.

So there were two main problems first one was documentation and the second one was merging codes into one place without any kind of conflicts. To solve these issues developers created a Version Control System. VCS allows users to roll back files back to their previous state, users can even roll back the entire project to its initial state, they can compare changes, can see who has modified the project and when. 

Benefits that you can’t ignore

  • Enhances the project development speed
  • Provide a very efficient collaboration within the team
  • Reduces the possibility of error and conflicts
  • Even a very small change is traceable
  • Devs can contribute to the project from anywhere
  • For different contributors, a different copy can be maintained and can be verified before merging to the main project
  • Recovery of the previous state is possible
  • A lot of information about who, why, and when can be accessed
  • Saves a lot of time for your coffee.

Types of Version Control System

  • Local Version Control Systems
  • Centralized Version Control Systems
  • Distributed Version Control Systems

Local Version Control System: It basically maintains the track of files within the local system. It is the simplest one but the most error-prone. The chances to rewrite a file by mistake are very large. 

Centralized Version Control System: In a Centralised VCS basically snapshots of the changes are saved on the server. The main or centralized server tracks all the changes. Every user can have their branch where they can commit changes and merge with the main branch after review.

Distributed Version Control System: In Distributed VCS the user completely clones a copy of Server files to its local repo. Hence each user has a backup of server files. So this overcomes the drawback of Centralised Version Control as even if the server goes down or crashes or dies every user has a backup that can be restored to the server again.

Thsi image shows the working of Distributed Version Control

5 Free Open-source VCS Tools to check

There are various Version Control Systems that are available for use. Some of them are open-source means free to use as well as you can contribute to their source code. Below is the list of top free open source version control systems with the link to their official sites. You can go through the documentation part of these link to know more about these tools

  • Concurrent Version controls (CVS)

  • Apache Subversion (SVN)

  • Mercurial

  • Bazaar

If you want to learn more about any particular tools from the above list you can go through the given links. That’s all for this article. Happy learning Learners. 🙂

Written by 

Saumya is a Software Consultant at Knoldus Software LLP. She has done B.Tech from Quantum School of Technology, Roorkee. She has good knowledge of Devops technologies like Ansible, Terraform, Docker, Concourse, Jenkins, Kubernetes. She is very enthusiastic and energetic. Apart from technology, she is interested in various sports.