When you think of Git, version control is the first thing that comes to your mind. Git is the leading distributed version control system that has become the industry standard to power projects of any scale. According to stats, Git has more than 80% of the market share.
The best thing about Git is that it can be easily integrated into any development environment. However, implementing Git must be done correctly, or else it will lead to unnecessary complications and may even break the delivery pipeline. Let’s look at how to use Git correctly to manage the source code of an application.
Setup Git Usage Specifications
A proper understanding of Git is very much needed for implementing it. Git is not limited to pull, commit, push and merge commands. It enables users to completely manage the application source code while allowing multiple users to collaboratively modify the source code without interfering with each other. Furthermore, Git provides the necessary tools to rectify the conflicts when modifications overlap. Therefore, it is important to understand the full feature set of Git and where and who exactly can use each feature.
This scope of understanding should cover who can interact with branches, which branches to push and pull code from, and ultimately who will review the code and merge it to the master or a release branch. It reduces the risk of code conflicts and allows development teams to validate code changes properly.
Another factor that should be included in the basic usage guidelines of Git is the content in the repository. Version control has moved beyond application code with the rapid expansion of DevOps, practices like Database DevOps, and Infrastructure as Code. Thus, database and infrastructure changes and any other configurations must be included in separate repositories and managed via Git when required. This version-controlled approach to all aspects of the delivery pipeline enables delivery teams to have much greater control over the complete application architecture while keeping track of all the changes.
Proper Branching Strategy
After setting up proper git usage guidelines, the next step is to introduce a proper branching strategy. As the name suggests, a branching strategy defines how branches are created and maintained throughout the development lifecycle. This entails which branches are used for new features, bug fixes, and how releases are handled.
One of the primary considerations when selecting a proper branching strategy is how software deployments (releases) need to be handled in the delivery pipelines. With Different branching strategies offering distinct advantages and disadvantages, you must select a branching strategy that simplifies development while providing the required deployment options. More traditional branching strategies like Git Flow are more suitable for traditional release-based deployments, while more modern strategies like GitHub Flow, Trunk-based Development, and GitLab Flow are well suited for modern DevOps processes. These modern strategies also have a greater affinity with Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery practices.
The best way to approach these strategies will be to identify the needs of development and deployment requirements of your software development lifecycle. You need to select a branching strategy that best suits your needs and then tweak it to suit your exact needs.
As with any software application, you will inevitably face issues when using Git in the development environment. These errors can range from simple connectivity issues to more complex merge failures. You need to establish proper troubleshooting practices depending on the specific error and the scope of the issue. Otherwise, troubleshooting may lead to additional issues affecting the whole source control.
Any developer can quickly search and get an excellent guide to troubleshoot the fatal: refusing to merge unrelated histories error caused by mistakenly trying to merge two unrelated projects with different commit histories. As a best practice, even common errors like this should be discussed among team members so that they have an understanding of how to act if they face a similar error.
In a more complex scenario like an incorrect merge, all the relevant parties, including team leads, should come together to properly roll back changes without affecting the entire development team. This issue becomes more complex if other developers pull the faulty merge changes. Therefore, communication plays a vital role in acknowledging all team members about the rollbacks and changes to the core repositories.
Proper troubleshooting practices are paramount to keep the source control clear and minimize downtime of the development pipeline.
Adapting Git as the version control mechanism may not be a simple task. However, its benefits vastly outweigh any complexities encountered when properly implementing Git in the development process. With properly agreed upon practices, code verifications, branching strategies, and troubleshooting guidelines, organizations can utilize Git to its fullest potential to manage any kind of code ranging from the application, database to infrastructure, and configurations with relative ease.
Also Read: 12 Source Code Editors for Web Programmers