Git is a versioning control system for your source code. For engineering teams, having a method of tracking and managing changes to source files is an essential part of maintaining good software development practices and allowing seamless collaboration.
Git is widely considered the most popular versioning control system. In the 2021 Stackoverflow developer survey, over 90% of respondents indicated they use Git, suggesting it’s a fundamental tool for developers.
Why Git? And what makes it such an essential tool for people who code? Software needs to be managed and the numerous features provided by Git specifically for source code establishes it as a critical tool for software projects.
The process of developing software can be complex, especially in a collaborative effort. Having a tool such as Git in place can simplify the process in numerous ways.
We’ll explore some core reasons why Git is a must-have tool if you code whether as an individual or as part of a team.
1. Detailed history report for your code
When it comes to writing code, its narrative matters.
For a code base in any software development activity, code added, removed, edited, and any other change becomes extremely important in the ability to debug, maintain and collaborate effectively.
As a versioning control tool, Git allows detailed tracking of changes made to code through a Git Commit history. Commits are like snapshots taken of an entire source code repository at a point in time. The concept of commits make it simple to monitor exact changes to code, to compare versions and to rollback the repository if needed.
The numerous features provided by Git to easily and precisely monitor source code changes is one the reasons why Git is a must-have tool for developers.
2. Safe and sound ‘save points’ for your code
No developer wants to discover their code has been deleted, corrupted, or in some way or another, no longer in the state they expected it to be in. Git prevents such nightmares by providing a method of having backups of entire repositories.
Everytime a Git commit is made the staged contents of the repository which includes its files, are saved as part of the commit. This means that essentially, every commit is like a save point that can be used to examine the contents of the repository and to retrieve a history of its files.
However, with any decent backup system is the rule of not having the backup files in a single location. When Git repositories are stored on online remote platforms such as GitHub, it is referred to as a remote repository. The concept of remote repositories means the contents of entire code bases and their histories can be safely stored on a network or the cloud.
The ease of creating tracked backups to the files in a code base and transferring them to a remote location is a core reason why Git should be used to manage software projects.
3. Collaborate with anyone, anywhere, anytime
Another key reason why Git is an essential tool for engineering teams is the ability for multiple parties to actively work on a single code base.
The ease of access to source code as a remote repository opens up a means for more than one developer to actively work on the code base. Git allows such collaboration through several features such as the concept of Git Clone, Branches and Pull Requests.
The concept of Git and GitHub has also played a key role in driving the advancement of open source projects. The ease to work with any developer, anywhere in the world greatly supported the adoption of open source and encouraged developers to contribute to them.
For example, large-scale open source projects like the Linux Kernel and Mozilla Firefox are maintained using Git. Git plays an essential role in providing the capacity for such projects to receive thousands of contributions from developers across the globe.
Fun fact – Linus Torvalds, the original author of Linux, was also the one who initiated the concept of Git for code versioning control. A driving factor why Linus developed Git was to improve how the Linux code base was managed.
Git is widely seen as a fundamental tool for software developers, allowing easy tracking, backup and collaboration on a code base. Git is a tool filled with tons of advanced features, yet its most basic of features provide more than enough reason for it to be used as an essential tool in code development.
While adopting any tool will initially take some investment in time and effort, learning Git will certainly reap its benefits in the long term. If you don’t use Git already, the core reasons listed in this article for why Git is essential should hopefully have you convinced!
Also checkout our article introducing you to the basics of Git.
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