Source control: definition, importance and examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Source control, also known as version control, is beneficial to every developing process. It helps solo developers keep track of their code change and have a revision history of their codes and software text files. Companies also have the liberty to choose from all the available options and brands to suit their needs. In this article, we describe what source control is, outline the different types, explain how job applicants can use this tool and provide you with various source code examples.

What is source control?

Source control is a version control system that aids the tracking and managing of code changes. It helps users retrieve previous versions of the source code and ensures that developers use the correct version of source code while running projects. It also provides users with histories of code development and helps them have a smooth workflow, especially while merging outputs from different sources. You can use source control in complex and simple cases, like developing a large software project or writing a simple application.

Using this tool, you can achieve team collaboration and work less during a development period. Identifying changes and initiators of the change can also be very easy. Likewise, you can properly streamline a basic software development process for the best results.

Read more: Coding for beginners: a comprehensive guide with salary info

Types of version control

Source control is a type of version control system to help track code. Here are the two categories of version control tools:

Centralised version control

Centralised systems work best in a server and client relationship, and they can also provide access to several clients because of the repository that is at a place. An example of centralised version control is Apache subversion. The Apache subversion tools are simple to understand and use, allow access and control over users, and allow for more GUI users to use the system.

Distributed version control

In distributed version control, each client has a personal copy of a whole repository file and history. Distributed version control tools can make branching and merging files much more reliable. They also have other benefits, such as promoting strong and detailed code tracking, which helps to reduce conflicts. They're fast in operation and don't need servers to function, except when shared repositories are local.

Why is source control important to job applicants?

If you're thinking about applying for a job, consider using source control to help you. Here are a few reasons source control is important to job applicants:

It gives you an edge over others

Having any of the source control management skills is always an added advantage, especially with tech or software companies. Recruiters may believe that your knowledge of these control tools can aid teamwork and smooth workflow. This can give you an edge over other job applicants. You can use many of these tools freely for both public and private repositories. You also get to learn more about how it works from the many free tutorials online.

It protects code

Control tools can back up your code to a remote location through a private or public repository. For example, as a job recruiter, you may want an applicant to create a new location for existing codes and other experiments without tampering with the original code version. You may then choose the candidate who has experience using these tools.

Prevents loss of files

Most times, in preparing for jobs applications or job interviews, you might mistakenly change codes. Source control can help you revert those codes to their former state. This saves you the time of having to start the process all over again.

Helps you backtrack

This control management tool can help you backtrack and answer questions easily. This is especially important when you don't understand how a code was changed. It helps you track at which point a change was made, including comments you made at any point of a project.

Related: 10 of the most in-demand coding languages and their uses

Source control vs version control

These are two interchangeable control management systems. While source control concentrates mainly on source codes, version control centres on a variety of large binary files and digital assets. Both source control and version control permit different developers to work on the same codebase, make merging codes simple and help developers edit shared codes when the need arises. Version control keeps source codes safe from human error and unintended mistakes.

Source control vs source code management

There's not much difference between source control and source code management. Unlike source control that helps track and manage code changes, you can use source code management to trace modifications to a source code storage. You can also use it to trace history changes to a codebase. Source code management is a tool that helps ease the heavy impact of large development costs, as developers still have the liberty to write new source codes to replace the initial one.

As software projects grow, communication costs and management also grow. Source control and source code management work hand-in-hand to allow many team members to work simultaneously on the same file and help in maintaining the tracking of file changes. They also provide users with a UI interface to compare different versions of a file.

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Examples of version control

To fully understand what version control is, it can be useful to look at real-life examples. Here are a few examples of version control:

GitHub

With GitHub, team members of a project can work together to maintain all the history of code changes. You can also track code changes, undo past errors and work effectively with team members. It acts as a repository to host Git projects. Gits are open-source version control systems that involve multiple workflows, convenient staging areas and local branching. It's quite easy to learn and you can depend on them for faster operations.

HelixCore

The HelixCore helps this version control tool to perform and deliver its function. It usually comes with a single platform that supports team collaboration and assistance for distributed development and centralised workflow. It protects valuable assets and can track and facilitate code changes together.

AWS CodeCommit

This version of the control system can host secure Git repositories. It can easily connect with products and help ensure that codes are safe within an AWS environment. It's also helpful to secure access to different plugins from AWS.

Beanstalk

Beanstalk is a browser and cloud software that allows users to review, code, commit and deploy through a browser. It works perfectly for users at remote places, and you can merge it with messaging and emails for better teamwork about updates and codes. It also uses encryption, passwords and two-factor authentication for security purposes.

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Apache subversion

This control system is a dependable option for vital data. It's an open-source version initiated by CollabNet. Some elements of Apache subversion are history tracking, security and inventory management. It also provides affordable local branching, workflow management and user access controls.

Microsoft team foundation server

This is a Microsoft-developed control management tool that can manage source code and other services that require versioning. It's also an enterprise-grade tool that helps to keep track of codes to check errors and identify the requirements needed in a project. It comprises different features, such as team foundation shared services, team project portal, team build, data collection and reporting.

CVS version control

This is a common and one of the oldest version control tools used by commercial traders and open-source developers. With the CVS version control, you can survey the code you plan to work on together with the possible check-in changes. It's great for managing projects with many branches, which makes it easy for team members to combine their code changes and give inputs concerning the important features of a project.

Bitbucket

Bitbucket comprises unique features that help to enhance its functionality. They are code branches, pull requests and in-line commenting and discussions. You can also connect with as many as up to five users for free. Likewise, you also have the opportunity to try out platforms for free before deciding whether to purchase them. You can deploy it on the cloud, a local server and the data centre of a company.

Mercurial

This is a free control management tool that provides users with a simple and intuitive user interface. It's mostly known for its ability to manage projects of different sizes and is unique for its backup system, data import and export, search functionality, project tracking and management and data migration. It's also perfect for access controls, history tracking, security and workflow management.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed

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