Code Management Systems, also known as Version Control Systems, have been around for quite a while. However, there is still code sitting in shared folders or in zip files that get passed around to different developers and devoid of tracking, revisioning, or management.
If you are working in an environment like that, I encourage you to find a Code Management System to transition your code. Many of them are low-cost and sometimes free, depending on the tier of service required.
Before you start running wild with your new, shiny management system, you should learn about how to use it. Here are some best practices for using code management systems.
Every Code Management System possesses a standard set of features. Those features include:
- Change history: A detailed record of every change that has been made to a file, including dates, user info, and a message to provide context as to why the change was made.
- This often includes the ability to compare various file versions, which can be useful when tracking a bug introduced by a code change.
- Branching & Merging - The ability to create offshoots, called branches, from the central codebase, as well as the ability to merge those branches back into the central codebase.
- Distributed/Remote - Many modern Code Management Systems are designed to run remotely/in the cloud.
- Integration with IDE’s - While not a feature of the Management Systems themselves, many IDE’s integrate with numerous systems.