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Keep it under control

I'm often amazed at the number of developers who don't use source code control software. The arguments I've heard against it are lame and half hearted:

Too expensive

Other than some time to set it up and the disk space to set aside for it, there is no reason for it to cost anything at all. There are several source code control options that are open source or free. (Some examples include Subversion and CVS.) Personally, I use Sourcegear's Vault, which is free for a single user.

Only large teams need source code control

Even teams of one person can benefit from using source code control. With a good source code control tool (and some discipline in using it), you can always get back to a previous version of your code. This has saved me numerous times when I tried an approach that didn't pan out. No problem - I just retrieved a previous version from Vault and moved on. Source code control gives me the freedom and confidence to make changes knowing I have a backup.

Couldn't you just make those backup's manually? Sure, but would you? If you are doing it manually, you are more likely to just make back-ups when you release a version. Incremental version backups are much nicer to have.

If you are working on a team, this becomes even more important. Source code control will allow everyone to make changes to code without accidentally stepping on each other. A good source code control tool will merge those changes together, and alert you to any conflicts.

Of course the ability to branch code and merge those branches is also tremendously beneficial. Whether you are on a team of 1 or 100 developers, you will likely eventually run into a situation where you are working on the next version of your app, and your customer needs a fix to a previous version. With version control, you can branch the code at the previous version, and make the fix, then merge that branch back into your main code trunk. That way, you won't have to re-implement all your changes for the fix manually.

If a developer is not using source code control software for their code, they are likely inexperienced, uninformed, or lazy. None of these bode well for the success of a project.


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