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Version Control : Learn it! Live it! Love it!

Jonathan Eunice
Dec 15, 2014
<p>When I’m helping people with their code, I often hear “it was working…but I made some changes, and now it doesn’t work.” “Fine,” I say. “Let’s go back to that point.” “Um… I can’t. I don’t don’t remember all the changes I made.” <em>Oops!</em> When it’s an assignment that’s due soon or a project you need to push live: <em>Double oops!</em> It’s even more frustrating to have had it, then lost it.</p><p>I’ve been there too—sadly, over the years, too many times to count. Decades ago, there might have been an excuse. But in 2014, there is no need for things to be that way. No reason to lose your work—especially important, working, or milestone versions!</p><p>Modern <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_revision_control">version control tools</a> like <a href="http://mercurial.selenic.com">Mercurial</a> and <a href="http://git-scm.com">Git</a> are free, reasonably easy to learn, will <em>save your butt</em> more times than you will ever want to admit. There are lovely online services like <a href="https://bitbucket.org">Bitbucket</a> and <a href="https://github.com">Github</a> that will save copies of your repositories online, and optionally let others collaborate with you—also for free. Graphical tools like <a href="http://www.sourcetreeapp.com">SourceTree</a> can make getting going even easier.</p><p>Like backups, revision control systems only work if you use them. So get in habit <strong>now</strong>. Start version control as soon as you start to work. Commit early and often. If you take this advice, you thank me later.</p>
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