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What is a Source Control Tool?

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A source control tool is something that allows programmers a variety of functions when it comes to source code repositories and managing this development process. There are a number of features that can be associated with a source control tool, including:

  • Multiple developers have the ability to edit the same source code at the same time.
  • If a conflicting edit takes place, source control tools provide the function to allow merging.
  • Maintain an ongoing database of edits that have occurred to the code as well as data associated with the edits (authors, times, etc.)
  • Developers can roll back edits that they have personally made.

These source control tools are used in a variety of different settings and they can be run from a single computer, or from a distributed repository (there are many online).

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The Benefits Associated With Source Control Tools

When you are an engineer or a programmer and you have a lot of different tasks that are on your plate at any given moment, it can become overwhelming to manage everything at once. This is especially true if there is a team of professionals that you work with and everyone is making their own updates and changes. You can’t possibly keep everyone in the loop on a verbal basis. Some of the benefits associated with source control tools take this into consideration and can include:

  • Easy ability to back up code to one central location that multiple people can access if given the authority. If an employee leaves the company, the edits and information will still be available to other people taking over the work.
  • New features can easily be developed and tested with the ability to roll out new programs.
  • With a thorough history being right at your fingertips, you can troubleshoot problems with ease. Also, you can view what recent trends have been and review other people’s work for assessment purposes.
  • Access control is provided for revision purposes.
  • If there are competing changes that are being made by two different programmers, conflict resolution is available in order to sort through these changes and determine which direction would be the best to go in moving forward.

Finding The Right Source Control Tool

There are many different source control tools that you can personally utilize at your place of employment. There are different features that are provided, various backup options and of course, different costs associated with purchasing and utilizing these storage options and service. It is important for upper management to consider what a company needs and to incorporate the opinions of the professionals who will be using this tool to do their everyday job. For a rundown on some of the most popular options today, see this article from G2 Crowd.

In addition to the basic functions of a source control tool, these systems are also designed to provide users with various other tools like bug tracking, virus tracking, incident report tracking, branching and advanced support. A programmer or engineer that utilizes this type of tool understands the benefits of having this on site. It helps when you are working independently but it is also beneficial when you have multiple professionals working together and it is hard to constantly stay on the same page with one another when it comes to every minor detail or edit that is being done.