GIT: What is it and how does it make project work easier?

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If you're part of a development team or collaborate with developers, you've likely heard terms like GIT, versions, repositories, commits, or pull/merge requests. In this article, we'll explain what these terms mean and what a version control system actually is. Get ready for an easy-to-understand guide to the world of versioning, revealing how developers keep their code organized and in check.

What is a Version Control System?

A version control system is software used to manage changes in files and documents during their development. Proper use of a version control system, such as GIT, is among the best practices in software, web, and application development. Using a version control tool facilitates collaboration among multiple programmers on a single project, simplifies the sharing of code changes, and helps create different versions of a program that can be reverted to at any time.

GIT Terminology Glossary

Before we move on, let's go through a few basic terms related to GIT that we'll use in the article:

  • Repository: A space where different versions of a project are stored. The local copy of the repository is with the developer, and the remote copy is on a Git server.
  • Commit message: A short message written by the developer when recording changes (command git commit).
  • Push: The operation of uploading changes to the Git server (command git push).
  • Pull: The operation of downloading changes from the Git server (command git pull).
  • Pull/Merge request: After uploading changes, the developer creates a pull/merge request, which waits for approval (checked by a person and automated tests). Once approved, the changes are merged into the production branch.
  • Branch: Branches are created in the repository for independent development of different versions of the project. Branches can be merged using the merge operation.
  • Conflict: When two developers work on the same file in the same place, Git cannot automatically resolve which changes are correct. The developer must decide which changes to apply and which to discard.

Why Use a Version Control System?

In this article, we'll focus on GIT, a popular and easy-to-learn tool for versioning not only source code but also documents and other files. What are the benefits of using GIT in software development?

  • Easy Version Management: GIT allows you to easily track any change, who made it, and when. It also allows you to switch between different versions of a project, making it easy to revert to previous states.
  • Easy Collaboration: GIT enables synchronization of changes between developers. Each developer creates a short commit message describing the changes when uploading them, and then sends the changes to Git using the git push command.
  • Distributed Source Code: Copies of the data are distributed among all team members, so in case of data loss (e.g., accidental deletion or theft of a laptop), the main source of data can be restored from colleagues. This also applies if the main server fails.

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Best Practices for Writing Commit Messages

Properly writing commit messages is crucial for successful version control and team collaboration. Here are a few tips for writing commit messages:

  • Short but Descriptive: Commit messages should be concise and clear.
  • Refer to Ticket or Task: Linking to the task in the ticket helps understand the context of the change.
  • Maintain Consistency: Use consistent formatting, capitalization, brackets, quotation marks, and language in commit messages.
  • Use Imperative Mood: Instead of "Added function," use "Add new function."
  • Break Changes into Logical Units: Prefer multiple smaller commits over one large one, which makes history easier to search.

Next Steps

There is much more to write about GIT, such as comparing solo project work versus group work, merge policies in tools like GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket, and practical examples with the most commonly used commands. All this will be covered in future articles.

Learn more about how GIT can help you with effective development and management of your projects!

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