I’m currently sitting in Riverside Hall at Sacramento State listening to Modest Mouse to drown out the voices around me, and contemplating the presentation I just heard about Git. Now if you don’t happen to be a programmer this may be your first time hearing about it, or version control in general.
It’s one of the tools that lacks the luster and excitement of an Ironman-like suit, Arnold’s portrayal of a robot from the future, or even moving away from what science fiction has lead us to believe about computers and focusing on things that actually happen like micromouse. We took a rover to mars, and your favorite video games are bound to have quite a bit of coding. Version control is a system that saves all versions of a file and records the changes, and allows you access to those files. What I’m trying to say here is that programmers have developed some extremely cool things over the years and this isn’t anywhere near the tip of the iceberg.
The projects I’ve listed entail thousands of lines of code on the conservative end, all of which can be extremely fragile. One late night of coding hopped up on your favorite energy drink can lead to disaster. Speaking from a student’s perspective this can be bad when you have looming deadlines- I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted trying to fix something I broke one late night of coding. This leads us to version control, which I only started taking seriously about a year ago when I was taking a software engineering class. These classes require a team of students to work on the same project simultaneously; in our case it was a website for a client that interfaced with a database. Version control is perfect here: imagine emailing files back and forth, or trying to fix something someone else broke. Having a repository such as Github or Springloops (which I use) can give you somewhere to hold your files and track changes to fix one late-night slip up of the keyboard. There are other options, such as having an offline server or using an online service (Dropbox, for example) but they won’t keep a log of your file changes and it would allow two people to work on the same file at the same time which is just a waste of productivity.
Basically, Git version control systems can save you when you break something, and don’t realize how you did it.
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