Most large-scale development projects include a team of designers, programmers, and/or developers. A large team can prove to be extremely beneficial as it relates to timely completion of a particular project. Collaboration, more often than not, is an efficient means of troubleshooting and problem solving – but there is a downside to robust development teams. Version control can often turn out to be an unruly monster that only raises it’s head months after an application has been launched.
Throughout the life of an application, it is only natural for developers to implement upgrades and bug fixes on a regular basis. Experienced application users have grown to expect regular feature updates and they demand immediate resolutions to bugs and sub par functionality. As developers implement code fixes and updates over time, it can become difficult to effectively maintain accurate records of viable fall-back points and version history. Even worse, the chance of releasing the wrong version is greater among large development teams unless a reliable version control system is in place.
There are several proprietary version control server software solutions on the market that are able to establish a subversion environment for developers. Typical version control software limits the risk of releasing improper code through a process known as subversion. Application structure is centralized on a server and each developer works on various branches of the original code base. Subversion provides an intuitive means of managing multiple threads of a development project, but – like any system – it is not without fault. Consolidating outdated branches and scheduling proper releases can be a tedious process and it usually takes a dedicated staff to monitor robust subversion systems.
Small development projects normally don’t warrant large and sophisticated subversion systems, so there are other more portable solutions available. GITHub is a free, open-source online version control solution that allows developers to upload and organize trunks and branches of code. There are dozens of similar open-source online code repositories similar to GITHub and they can prove to be a helpful organizational tool for some projects.
Whether you are working on a large scale development or a modest project, accurate version control is a must. A little research goes a long way, so it will prove beneficial to any project – large or small – to analyze your needs and plan appropriately in terms of selecting a version control system. Remember, this is not something that you want to deal with for the first time once you are months into the development of a project. Think ahead and save yourself from falling victim to “Version Control Gone Wild”.