Revision control, also known as version control or source control is the management of changes to documents, programs and other information stored as computer files, and it can be a powerful productivity booster anywhere it’s used.
This article is about source code version control systems, but revision control is also embedded in various types of software such as word processors, spreadsheets, various content management systems and wiki software. Wikipedia, one of the top 10 most visited websites in the world is based on the principle that anyone can change almost any article and changes are tracked with it’s own version control system.
Why use revision control when developing code for the web?
An easier collaboration between anyone who writes source code is the main advantage of using this programs, but even if you work alone, revision control creates organized backups of your work. It also encourages more experimenting with code as it’s very easy to go back to a previous version without getting lost between dozens of folders or files with similar names.
Who uses it?
Programmers have been using revision control programs for many years, it is a core technology in the development of both open source and closed source code. For webmasters, webdesigners and digital activists, the technology is very useful in the development of themes, plugins and interactive infographics. It’s also important for webmasters that want to collaborate or get help from the open source community.
How to get started with revision control software?
There are many r.c. programs. The most popular are git, subversion, cvs, mercurial and bazaar. Just a few years ago subversion and cvs were predominant, but in recent years the flexibility and features of decentralized programs (git, mercurial and bazaar) are gaining more and more fans.
If you have to choose just one revision control program to learn, I recommend that you learn how to use git. Git stands out from the others for having advanced features, being fast and reliable. Currently it’s one of the most used systems, it’s open source and it’s free. Download git here
There are many good free tutorials to learn how to use git, but my first recommendation goes to Git Immersion. It’s an DIY training with exercises, to help you to memorize the basic git commands.
If you want to share your code, there are many repositories with thousands of open source applications each. Github is the most popular git repository. It has almost 700,000 registered members and provides free hosting for open source projects with some social features that make it unique.