What Is Version Control?

Dan Gold

Written by Dan

If you’re a front end web developer, then you’ve probably heard of version control before. But what is it, exactly? In short, version control is a system that allows developers to track changes to their codebase and easily revert back to previous versions if necessary.

There are many benefits of using version control, particularly for larger development teams. For one, it helps to keep everyone on the same page and ensures that all team members are working off of the most up-to-date version of the codebase.

Additionally, version control makes it easy to track bugs and identify when and where they were introduced.

Finally, if you ever need to go back and look at old code for whatever reason, version control systems make it easy to do so.

There are many different version control systems available, but the two most popular ones are Git and Mercurial.

How Git Works

Git is a distributed version control system, which means that each developer has a complete copy of the entire project history on their local machine. When a developer wants to make a change, they first create a new “branch” (a copy of the project at that point in time).

They make their changes on this branch, and then they “commit” those changes (i.e., save them to their local copy of the project).

Once they’ve committed their changes, they can then “push” those changes to the central repository (i.e., the server where all the developers’ code is stored).

At this point, other developers can “pull” these changes down onto their own machines and incorporate them into their own branches. Once all the developers are happy with a particular set of changes, one of them can “merge” their branch into the main development branch (i.e., the branch that everyone is working off of).

How Mercurial Works

Mercurial is very similar to Git in terms of how it works, however, there are some key differences. The most significant difference is that Mercurial uses a centralized workflow instead of a distributed one.

This means that there is only one central repository where all developers’ code is stored; each developer has their own “working copy” of the codebase, but they cannot commit changes directly to the central repository.

Instead, when a developer wants to make a change, they first create a new “changeset” (which is like a mini-branch) on their local machine.

Once they’ve made their changes and added them to this changeset, they then “push” these changes up to the central repository. At this point, other developers can “update” their working copies with these new changesets; once again, once all the developers are happy with a particular set of changesets, one of them can merge them into the main development line.

Last updated

November 15th, 2022