Version control systems, often shortened to VCS, are specialized software whose primary goal is to manage changes to codebases over time, a process called version control. The main aim of such a system is to be able to recall specific versions later.
While it is possible to version control any file, the most versatile file types to be version controlled are plain text files such as software source code and documentation.
Some of the most popular version control systems are Git, Mercurial, and Subversion.
What are the benefits of using a version control system?
- In teams, using a version control system allows many contributors to work on the same codebase simultaneously without overwriting or conflicting with each others’ work.
- Version control systems also enable developers to quickly revert the software to the last known good state in case of a failure or a bug.
- By storing the entire history of every change across every file, VCS makes it easy to identify the change that introduced bugs and the developer who made the change.
- Distributed version control systems, like Git, also make it possible to restore the entire code along with the history from any developer’s local copy in case the central repository is lost.