Version Control System in Backend
Delayed deliveries and missed deadlines don’t paint a good picture of your company in front of your customers. Precise and timely delivery is paramount for the growth and success of your business. Therefore, if you are venturing into the application development realm, you need to empower your developers with every tool possible to make their job efficient, easy, and collaborative. One such critical tool is the version control system.
Version control systems can be incredibly beneficial for managing and tracking changes in software codebase. Businesses and enterprises should integrate a version control system in the development workflows that appropriately suits their requirements.
What is Version Control?
When your team is working on a significant software or application development project involving a huge workforce and intricate technical concepts, you must establish collaboration between various team members and track frequent changes. This is when the functionality of a version control system comes into play. Version control represents a technique or method to keep track of the modifications in an application code. In case something goes wrong with the version control system, you will have the option to compare different code versions and restore any previous version that you want.
Rather than luxury or additional options, version control systems have become a necessity where multiple developers continuously function to develop or modify an application. As development environments have evolved and time to market has accelerated, version control systems empower application teams to work faster and smarter. They are especially beneficial for DevOps teams since they enable reducing development time and improving successful deployments.
With version control systems, developers can work simultaneously on a single application code and isolate their own work through branches. Branches prevent code changes from getting reflected in other branches. However, the modified branches can be merged together if and when the developer seems suitable.
What are the features of a Version Control System?
To qualify as a Version control system, a tool should provide the following features:
- A mechanism for each member of the development team to track the code changes.
- Enable developers to view a complete history of changes
- Facilitates simultaneous working on the same code file by different developers at the same time.
- A functionality for coat isolation through branching.
- Merging of different branches of code on command or upon fulfilling certain criteria.
- A system to demonstrate developer’s conflicts on code merges and enables developers to correctly address them
- Enables developers to revert their code changes to a previous state
Scenarios Where Version Control Can Be Immensely Beneficial
Backend development presents several scenarios where a version control system can be a lifesaver. Here are a few examples where the true value of a version control system can be realized.
Scenario 1: I’ve committed a change I didn’t want to make
The realization that you’ve just mistakenly modified or deleted something you shouldn’t have is something extremely common in backend development. As the name suggests, the fundamental principle of a Version Control System is the creation of various versions of your code over time. Implicit in maintaining several versions of your code, a version control system can help you undo changes that have been made.
Scenario 2: I’ve made some code alterations, but I can’t recollect what they were
When working with a large code base or complex application architecture, it is easy to get lost in your own work. With code tracking and management by a Version Control System, you can easily view the changes you have made not only since the last time you committed your code but when you started working on the project.
Scenario 3: My computer crashed, and now I don’t have access to my code
In the era of the digital revolution, most VCS can run on a server. Therefore, your code modifications can be tracked and backed up remotely. It creates a copy of your work that does not explicitly depend on which digital device you use.
Scenario 4: How can everyone work on a single file simultaneously without any confusion and a sore throat at the end of the workday?
When you are working with several developers on a single project, collaboration can be a significant challenge. When multiple developers work on a single file, it is common to accidentally overwrite and modify someone else’s changes.
Using a remote version control system, you can create a branch and copy the code on your personal interface to work independently from other members of your team. Once the codebase development gets completed by everyone, the branches can be easily merged into a common file that incorporates everyone’s changes and modifications.
Scenario 5: I’m not sure how to document my work for the day
With Version control systems, you can get a detailed overview of the tasks you have accomplished over a particular period of time. The time duration can be a single day, an entire week, a complete month, or even a year. If you’re saving changes to your code regularly, fixing bugs, or performing other updates, you can quickly see a log of all the comments and get a compiled list of tasks that you have completed.
You can also integrate time-tracking tools within your version control system to extend its functionality. This will allow both time measurement and version management. Such integrations can be specifically important when you are working remotely or providing services as a freelancer. You can easily calculate the duration for completing a project and create invoices accordingly.
Scenario 6: I want to try something interesting, but I’m scared my code modifications might break something else
Branching allows you to isolate code modifications and avoid affecting the entire codebase. You can also easily reverse the problematic code without adversely affecting the functionality of the entire application. The Branching concept can be incredibly powerful since it empowers you to bring Innovation and perform experimentation with your code without changing the master application codebase.
Once your changes are successful, you can search your individual branch with the master codebase brand, which will apply the changes to the entire application. However, the changes will not affect the individual branches of other developers working on the same project. If your experimentation doesn’t work out, you can simply erase your branch without making any changes to the master codebase.
Types of Version Control Systems
Backend development encompasses three types of version control systems:
Local Version Control System
Centralized Version Control System
Distributed Version Control System
Local Version Control System
A local version control system represents a local database situated on your local computer. In the database, every file change is stored as a patch. Every patch set encompasses only the modifications made to the file since its last version. To view what the codebase looked like at any particular moment, it is essential to add up all the relevant patches to the file in the correct order until that given moment.
The primary concern with this is that everything is stored locally. If anything goes south in the local database, you’ll lose the patches. Also, if anything breaks in a single version, all the modifications made after that version would be lost. Also, collaborating can be challenging.
Centralized Version Control System
A centralized version control system encompasses a single server containing all the file versions. This allows multiple clients to concurrently access files on the server, download them to their local system or push them onto the server from their local system. This way, everyone remains in the loop and knows what everyone else on the software project is working on.
Administrators also have complete control over who can do what.This facilitates easy collaboration with other developers or a team.The biggest issue is that if the central server becomes corrupted, nobody can save their versioned changes, access files, or collaborate.
Distributed Version Control
Distributed version control systems allow developers to not just check out the latest snapshot of the files from the server. You can also fully copy the repository and its full history into your personal system.
Therefore, every developer collaborating on a particular project owns a local copy of the entire in their own local database with complete history. With this model, if the server becomes corrupted, any developer can send a copy of the project’s version to any other team member or back onto the server when it becomes available.
It is enough that one team member contains a correct copy of the repository, which can then easily be further distributed.
Whether you are working on an intricate code base for a complex application or simple scripts for a simple software system, it’s always a good idea to dedicate some time to learn how to utilize a Version Control system.
Version Control systems are immensely potent tools to help you get things done more effectively.
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