The importance of version control systems for web designers and developers
If you are a professional designer or a developer, chances are that you have often felt the need of juggling with several versions of a single project lying in your computer at a given time. This happens mainly because of the fact that quite often you need to improvise on what you have done so far and this eventually leads to the development of various alternate versions. However, navigating through all of them and remembering the various aspects of these different versions can be a difficult thing to do. Unless you have a system of version control in place, you will have a tough time in working with the various versions.
A version control system, whether a personal or a proprietary one, can help you to handle large number of versions of the same project. To increase efficiency of your work, you must invest in a good quality version control system that helps you to manage your files and versions easily.
Importance of version control
Imagine you are working in a particular web design project and in effort to create the best slides for your client you came up with at least 5 or 6 different versions of the same project. You have named these separate versions of the project in the following way:
- Client File
- Client File Latest
- Client File New
- Client File Final
This can be immensely confusing for both yourself as well as your client. Your client does not have any specific thing to refer to, except that he only has an idea of what the final version visually looks like. Working in this way can be difficult for you as well, since you will need to struggle to find the final folder by looking through numerous versions. Moreover, managing your files like this can be a major problem for you if you need to find them six to eight months down the road. You will forget all about the work that you have done so far in this project and finding the requisite files will seem like a nightmare to you.
Here are some of the popular version control systems used by designers
Benefits of implementing version control
It is in keeping with such factors that you need to implement an efficient version control system in your computer. Once you get such a system installed, you will be able to reap the following benefits:
A version control system prevents you from overwriting the working files
If you accidentally save over the actual working copy of the files you are developing or designing, then it will ruin all of your efforts. You must have a copy of the code saved at a strategically good point so that you can start working on it at a later period. It is necessary for you to not override your previous versions so that you do not need to start your work all over again.
Your teams can share the projects and continue working on latest files
When you are using a reliable version control system, it allows your teams to start working on the latest folders and files of the project. It will prevent your team members from actually working on the older versions that might include bugs which the other team members might have already addressed and eliminated. A version control system keeps everything organized thereby reducing team-wide errors.
When a particular teammate makes notes, it also helps to keep a track of progress made in a project. Imagine a scenario where a team member needs to handle four tasks. However in the notes he mentions only three. This will prompt the other members to immediately check and make sure that everything associated with that project has been completed. Such ease of communication helps to complete projects efficiently without any holes.
User tracking and accountability
Version control allows you to keep a track of which member of your team worked on a particular file and when. Once a user makes any changes and uploads them, they also make notes that in turn allow the team members to stay updated about those changes. From knowing about the details of the changes to when they have taken place, these notes help to keep a track of everything. This will help you to easily detect problems later if any and work on rectifying them.
Branching and merging of folders or files
Branching allows a user to come up with an additional copy of a number of folders or files that they can exclusively work on. This makes it possible for the developers to evaluate things separately, without the need to break down the original cluster of files and folders.
Once all evaluation work has been done and the bugs if any are sorted out, you can easily merge the changes back into core system. This ability of separating projects into distinct pieces allows the team members to effectively work on the areas that they are accountable for, without really affecting others’ work. It particularly helps in specialty development, where the team can easily work on the standard core features. The specialty features can then be worked on by a separate team and then merged later to the core systems. It helps in speeding up the development phase and helping faster completion of projects.
When multiple members of your team are working on different facets of a single project, then there is a high chance of conflicts arising from time to time. However, by using a version control system, you get to exert complete control over the development phase of a project from a centralized angle and this will help you to manage conflicts much more effectively. By facilitating smooth communication among different team members, it will be possible for you to keep all of them on the same page as far as development is concerned and make sure that the final project maintains a high level of quality.