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Best Version Control System - Top Tools in 2020

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Table of Contents

What is Version Control System?

Any organizational project undergoes lots of changes. From images and layouts to documents, computer programs, and website content; the project team makes frequent edits, until proper completion. A Version Control Software (VCS) helps in easy management of these changes and allows its users to keep all revised files in a centralized database. Thus, at any point of time, professionals can refer to the past revisions or versions of the project document and maintain proper record of changes done over the time. The easy-to-use and highly flexible software provides flawless document editing experience and is a boon to the corporate sector.

Features of Version Control Software

Today, version control systems are available in two distinct models- local data model and client-server model. Local VCS is a time-saving system where users can simply copy files from the database into a local computer. Client-server models are further classified into centralized and distributed version software. Enterprises can share both of the systems with their clients.

The former comprises of a single server containing all the revisions of particular documents. All file versions are stored in a centralized database that can be accessed by all users. In the latter, all changes are present in individual computers, connected to the database. Thus, users get a complete repository of work done for a particular project.

Regardless of the type of VCS, every system has the following standard features:

  • Atomic Operations: The main attribute of a VCS lies in its consistent performance despite any interruption within its operations. It has atomic commits that communicate with the revision control module and asks the system to make the set of changes final; thereby making the finalized data available to all users.
  • Auto Backup: Another significant feature of a normal VCS is automatic backups. Whenever users make any changes within the documents, the system auto records those edits and backup the files, according to versions. Backup data can be retrieved at any point of time and is especially useful during a breakdown of the central server.
  • Integration: New-age VCS can be highly integrated with revision control tools. Besides its own tools, the software can easily integrate with other software engineering applications like Oracle JDeveloper, Eclipse, Visual Studio and other programming modules; thus serving specific purposes of its utility and facilitating seamless management of document edits.

Besides the above common characteristics, there are two other features, which are alternatively present in VCS. While some systems have locking files feature, others have merging versions.

The locking file feature effectively prevents concurrent access issues in locking files. As a result, at a given point of time, only one user is capable of accessing the central database of those particular files, making the required changes, and performing other activities. Other users can only read the file without working on them.

Systems equipped with merging versions, function within a shared environment and allow multiple users to simultaneously access the database and make the necessary amendments within the files.

Advantages of using Version Control System

Installing modern VCS facilitates users to:

  • Collaborate with teams and with clients: The main benefit of working with VCS is maintaining real-time collaboration among the project team as well as with the client, at the same time. Since most systems work in shared environment, its users can work independently, merge the necessary applications, and bring everything into one platform. Professionals can streamline document editing procedures and saves time, and effort.
  • Maintain Proper Edit Versions: Thanks to VCS, users can keep a real-time record of all versions of any documents. From the initial files to the latest draft; they can organize everything on their screen. Also, based on the requirements, employees can prioritize versions and select the most suitable ones, for reference.
  • Get Useful Insights: Going by the version control database, business heads come to terms with the present work scenario. They get valuable insights that are vital for in-depth understanding and assessment of the current project status. Using such information and based on their evaluation, they can make workable plans for the coming days.
  • Track Progress: VCS talks about the ongoing development of any project. Through this system, professionals can monitor the present work status and know where the project is heading. They can analyze work progress and track data, over a period. Thus, they are aware of their current position and can initiate the necessary steps to achieve their goals.

Disadvantages of using Version Control Software

Just like any other programs, VCS has its cons:

  • Expensive Solution: An emerging technology; VCS is not so prevalent in the corporate world. Moreover, it’s very costly and also involves substantial charges for maintenance and updates. Besides these expenses, organizations need special license to access its modules. This calls for additional licensing and permits charges, on a regular basis.
  • Lack of Advanced API: Although VCS can integrate with other dynamic tools, yet it fails to offer high software interface, thus making it non-friendly for the users. Lack of advanced Applied Program Interface (API) also restricts its functionality in certain cases and limits its efficiency. As a result, professionals often find it difficult to operate the system and get the necessary results.
  • Limited Policies: While using version control application, organizations have to define a set of policy. They need to create a branch, put labels, and establish change sheets for their work. Such policies prevent users from making optimal use of the software and keep them in woe.

Things to keep in mind while choosing Version Control System

With the above-mentioned features, advantages, and disadvantages; companies must make a right decision for choosing the best-suited VCS for their business. And to arrive at the best verdict, here are some important points, worthy to be considered:

  • Purpose of Installing VCS
    The very first thing to consider is the purpose of making such a huge investment. Well, knowing the fact that VCS comes at a slightly more expensive cost, a company needs to have strong reasons for installing one. Before purchase, it’s important to take out time and assess the specific business requirements that will be fulfilled by the system. Identifying the purpose is significant for making the right choice and deriving maximum utility of VCS.
  • Who shall use VCS?
    After finalizing the key purpose, it’s time to look at the users- the ones who will use VCS on a regular basis. In some companies, it’s the management and project heads who use the version control program. While, in others, everyone from the employees to the board along with their customers and vendors has access to the software. Thus, an organization needs to take a call on the range of users and then go for the best option.
  • Evaluation Process
    The function of a software does not end with installation or execution. People need to evaluate the results and take their decisions forward. To achieve this, professionals must choose some easy-to-assess system that generates simple reports and analytics, preferably in the form of graphs and charts and helps the top level people to study data and make proper evaluations.
  • Affordability
    Finally, it’s all about cost and comparing the benefits against the price paid. Instead of just assessing the one-time purchase costs, companies need to be a bit cleverer and consider the recurring costs which include software updates and maintenance. This will give an idea about the actual cost and not any estimated charges.

Considering the business needs, features offered by the VCS, its pros and cons, and its affordability shall enable an organization to go for the best VCS.

In a nutshell, Version Control Software is a viable, dynamic solution that is useful for any business sector. Its integrated modules, diverse work environment (shared and local), and seamless collaboration make it ideal for today’s competitive world. It is an incredible software that provides accurate real-time data and helps professionals to take their company towards the zenith.

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Rinkesh AnandaniBy Rinkesh Anandani | Last Updated: October 28, 2020

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