From FTP Commando to GIT Hero:
The easy road to version control
Part of the developer track, the session focused on version control, the art of keeping tabs on project changes. Most developers are all too familiar with the challenge of determining what may have changed from one version of software to the next. Rudimentary methods of version control, like maintaining dated folders with previous versions of a project, come up short in a number of ways. For example, how do you access code you may have deleted in previous versions? How do you know what has changed in the versions held in various folders? How can you rollback to a previous version?
Green’s answer is Git. Git is a free revision control and source code management system developed by Linus Torvalds, the architect of the Linux operating system. According to Green, Git can be used as a self-standing system or on a server for collaborative projects.
The system creates a repository that holds your changes, which can be viewed in a log format. The system allows you to “stage” your changes before actually “committing” them to the repository. It’s up to you to decide how often you wish to commit changes to the repository and how to describe the changes using messages that accompany the changed files.
Git is a powerful, sophisticated version control system whose features and implementation are well beyond the short summary offered here. The key takeaway from Green’s presentation, however, is the value of tracking changes to web projects — including WordPress — in an organized fashion. The ability to easily return to previous versions of a project, or to readily identify what has changed from one version to the next, can be a lifesaver for developers.