Version control
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Version Control. What does version control mean?. A version control system is a software tool designed to help keep track of changes made to files A version control system tracks the history of your files A version control system helps you collaborate on changes

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Version Control

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Version control

Version Control


What does version control mean

What does version control mean?

  • A version control system is a software tool designed to help keep track of changes made to files

  • A version control system tracks the historyof your files

  • A version control system helps you collaborate on changes

  • These two qualities make them really useful, as we'll see

  • Popular systems include Subversion, git, and Mercurial

  • They have their differences, but much in common too


Keeping track of history

Keeping track of history

  • You're working on software to process experimental data for publication.

  • You find to your horror that a change you made yesterday has rendered all the values for a particular result gibberish. How do you get the previous day's code back?

  • It turns out the previous version is also broken! You must have broken it during the last fortnight, but you don't know when. How can you find out what went wrong?

  • Someone asks for a copy of the software used for that Institute of Scientists journal paper last May. It's changed a lot since then! What do you say?


Collaborating on changes

Collaborating on changes

  • You're the only one working on your code, but you need to run it both on your laptop at home and the server in the lab...

  • How do you make sure the code is the same on both?

  • You're working on code or a paper with a colleague...

  • How do you find out when they change something?

  • You both make fixes in the same file. How do you merge them without risking losing work?

  • How can you find out which of you introduced a bug, and when?


Version control helps with this

Version control helps with this

  • A version control system helps with all of those problems

  • You do have to work a bit:

  • You need to tell it which files you care about

  • You need to tell it when you've changed something

  • If two people make conflicting changes, you have to resolve them

  • ... but it's much easier than trying to do this by hand


Version control terminology

Version control terminology

  • A repository holds the complete history of your project: every version of every file

  • A working copy is the project as you're working on it now: just the current version of each file

  • You can update your working copy, replacing its files with newer (or older!) versions from the repository

  • A repository can be local, on your computer's hard disc, or remote, on a server somewhere else

  • You can push or pull between repositories of the same project, to keep their changes in sync


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