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Version Control- Overview

Version control is a way to track multiple versions of a code. This has a place in development, primarily with adding new features while still using the original code or with multiple developers, and if the code has minor variants for reasons such as slightly different input/output data types or for use on different compute resources. One popular version control tool is git, which uses a distributed approach which allows for many development points. The basic git workflow is to

  1. Modify files – create new code, fix bugs, etc.
  2. Stage the files – explicitly state what will be deposited
  3. Commit your files – store a snapshot

Your repository will have a master branch, where the current production code usually exists, and other branches that may be for any other purpose, such as development or variations. Branches can either be merged back to the master branch as features are added and execution is validated, or kept separate if the usage requires multiple working versions of the code. It is up to the user to define how their repository is set-up as well as to keep non-local versions of the repository as up-to-date as desired. There are great online resources for git including excellent documentation and tutorials.