It’s all too easy to accidentally delete or overwrite an important file. If you’re a web developer dealing with a large amount of files on a daily basis, this can be a significant problem, especially if you’re working as a team. One way to make file management easier and more secure is to use version control.
What is version control?Version control is essentially tracking revisions made to a file or a set of files. A version control system (VCS) allows you to keep a history of changes made, restore older versions of a file, sync files between team members, and more. This makes it easy to fix mistakes like overwriting or deleting files, and helps to keep files up-to-date.
Benefits of version control
Keeps files safeSince version control makes it easy to recover deleted files or restore older versions, your files are safer and more secure. It’s one of the most efficient ways to ensure you always have a backup of your files.
Tracks changesA version control system will track all changes to your files, giving you a detailed history of edits and updates. This makes troubleshooting much easier, since you can pinpoint what changes were made that might have broken something.
Makes collaboration easierVersion control systems also make collaboration easier by allowing users to work on a set of files at the same time without worrying about overwriting changes. Most VCSs provide the ability to lock files when in use, and files will update to the latest versions for all team members.
Saves timeAdding version control into your workflow will help streamline the web development process. Projects will take less time with the improved collaboration and file management, and will go more smoothly overall.
“For most developers, version control tools are the most important tools in their toolbox. Every development project starts with choosing the right version control system.”
—The Ultimate Guide to Version Control for Designers
Popular types of version controlHere at TBH Creative, we use Subversion to manage files, which is one of the most popular VCS choices. Subversion makes it easy for our team members to collaborate on projects, and provides our clients security in knowing we always have a backup of their website files.
Other popular version control systems are:
Wikipedia’s comparison of revision control software.