Version control is an extremely crucial aspect of your entire software development process. To provide the latest useful features to your users, you have to keep adding updates to your application. And, that can sometimes create confusion and difficulties in maintaining the balance in the CI/CD pipeline.
The modern agile methodologies make the product teams work in small sprints that consist of all the steps in every sprint. That means a usable version of the app is launched as soon as possible and then work is continued to add updates to it through small cycles.
Now, for every small work cycle, all the steps starting from designing, developing, testing, and committing the changes are performed. In such cases, your team members can often get stuck with confusion about their pull requests or commits (the actions performed for making changes to the code). This is where version control comes into the picture.
The version control system is the method of maintaining the balance in a project that multiple team members are working on. It helps you always keep track of all the versions of an app developed since the beginning of working on it. For a better understanding, the importance of version control can be described as the following.
Now that you know what version control is and why it is so important in your software development process, let’s move on to discussing some of its best practices.
Well, version control is a practice or better to say a method of keeping track of the being done on your application’s codebase. Now, no matter how many efficient steps you include in your version control strategy, you can never execute it without an efficient version control system (VCS).
A VCS is the easiest way to let all your team members work collaboratively and take an active part in the development process. An efficient version control system like Git allows multiple developers to work simultaneously on an app at once and enables them to easily maintain historical project information.
A powerful VCS can also protect other important app assets such as -
Committing changes atomically is probably one of the most important and useful practices in version control. It stands for committing all files in a commit together or not committing them at all because you must always avoid showing partial or incomplete changes to other users.
This practice can be better followed by considering the ACID properties that are -
So, in brief, you must ensure committing all files of a task in a single operation so that the project always remains consistent.
This is another great practice in version control. Any large app has numerous features that can naturally get various bugs at different times. Now, if multiple developers work on multiple bug fixes and commit their files, it can be cumbersome to detect where any specific change is made.
That’s why it is always a good idea to commit a file with a single task performed as that will remarkably help you keep track of every change made to the code, and it will also access or modify any particular change at any point.
Also, if developers commit files with multiple changes and at any point, it is needed to back out any one of those changes, it will most likely be necessary to back out the entire commit making it an insanely complex and time-consuming process.
Hence, it is a great practice to break large tasks into smaller steps and make commits with a single purpose. It will mostly exempt you from making a bad commit.
In various previous articles, we have already discussed how important it is to maintain proper documentation for your code. That same practice is highly important in the cases of version control.
When multiple developers are working on the same project, it gets very crucial to add proper commit messages that state the motive behind those commits. A good commit message must clearly state the purpose of that commit to a code reviewer who knows very little or nothing about the commit. Hence, it is a highly useful version control practice to add good commit messages for every commit.
Committing frequently is a great practice that makes you break large changes into smaller chunks making it easier to keep track of the code changes and for your team members to review the code. If you don’t follow this practice and commit large chunks of code infrequently, whenever any member of your team will try to detect an issue and fix it, it will be an extremely tiring task like finding a needle in a haystack.
Hence, you must follow a kind of rule of thumb i.e.
Practice making small and frequent commits that will help your entire team easily review your code and integrate changes.
Committing incomplete work is one of the worst things to do in a teamwork environment. When you are working with multiple developers on a single project and if you commit with a piece of code not working as expected or conflicting with other team members’ codes, it will become a cumbersome task for other team members to understand your commit and take any action on it.
Hence, the best practice is to finish the planned amount of work for that day before committing and wrapping up. Also, you must avoid the practice of committing code only for the reason that there is something in your local repository or you need a clean working copy to start working again.
There can definitely be scenarios where you become unable to finish the planned coding for a day. You can better use git’s stash feature to save your incomplete work.
It is highly crucial to test and review a piece of code before you commit it. That is the only safe way to find out if your code is working or not. If you don’t test your code before committing it and if it does not work, you will know it only if it fails.
Hence, it is a great practice to carefully test and review your code before committing it to a shared repository. A great way to do that is by submitting your changes for code review or as a pull request. That way a different developer can check if there are any potential conflicts with the changes of other developers and they can also keep an eye on the changes taking place.
Also, you must already know how efficient it is to test your app with codeless test automation tools like Preflight. Its advanced AI functionalities enable any member of the team to easily perform different forms of tests irrespective of his/her coding knowledge. For a glimpse of such an amazing experience, you can get started for free.
Branching is an important aspect of efficient team collaboration. When you are working with multiple developers, it is normal that each one of you will mostly work on different portions of the entire codebase.
In version control, different branches are a common scenario. Developers create different branches to work on different things and in the end, all branches are merged with the main branch to launch a working version of the app. Now, in such a case, if they do not have a proper branching strategy, it is most likely that their branches will cause merge conflicts or the team members will often end up overwriting existing changes or the updates will often get lost.
That’s why you must consult with your team and maintain an efficient branching strategy depending on the following points -
Hence, consider following the best practice of maintaining a useful branching plan to avoid inefficiency in your development life cycle.
Traceability is another important reason for using version control. A prime objective behind using version control is that every member of the development team remains capable of accessing and keeping track of everyone’s part of the work.
Now, if your commit becomes untraceable, other members of your team may not be able to detect which bug you were working on and what fixes you added. Also, the untraceability of your commit may exempt you from figuring out if the bug is fixed or is still there.
To keep your commits traceable, you must follow some steps like -
Also, traceable commits make it easy for you to back out any commit whenever necessary and return the state of the project to an earlier time. Hence, keeping your commits traceable is also important in terms of keeping a backup of your project.
Following these version control best practices can indeed help you a lot in working collaboratively with your team members. So, we recommend you carefully go through the article and acknowledge yourself with such crucial information.