September 12, 2019

What Is Source Control?

Version Control

Every development team needs a good way to manage changes and version code in their codebases. That's why they use source control tools. Here we cover what source control is and how to choose tools.

What Is Source Control? 

Source control refers to tracking and managing changes to code. This ensures that developers are always working on the right version of source code.


Source Control vs. Version Control

These two terms are used interchangeably. However, source control is specific to source code. Version control also covers large binary files and digital assets.

What Is Source Control Management?

Source control management (SCM) refers to tools that help you keep track of your code with a complete history of changes.

Source Control vs. Source Code Management (SCM)

These two terms are also used interchangeably. However, source control is specific to tracking changes in source code. And a source code management tool (SCM) tracks changes to a source code repository.

SCM also maintains a history of changes. This is used to resolve conflicts when merging updates from multiple developers.

Free Source Control

Looking to get the best tool free? Now you can. Try Helix Core from Perforce free for up to 5 users.


Why Source Control Is Important

Source control is important for maintaining a single source of truth for development teams. Plus, using it helps facilitate collaboration and accelerates release velocity.

That’s because it allows multiple developers to work on the same codebase. They can commit and merge code without conflicts. And they can even make edits to shared code, without unknowingly overwriting each other’s work.

Tips for SCM

Having a system is one thing. Managing it effectively is another.

Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  1. Choose the right system. (Helix Core is a great one.)
  2. Store your code in the system.
  3. Pull the latest version of the code.
  4. Commit code often (and make notes).
  5. Use branches to work in parallel.

Choosing the right system is important — that’s why it’s the first best practice. But there are a lot of options to wade through. Here’s how they break down. 

[Related Blog: 8 Version Control Best Practices]

List of Source Control Tools

Source control tools include:

  • Git
  • Perforce Helix Core
  • Subversion
  • ClearCase
  • Team Foundation Server
  • Mercurial 

Git Source Control Is One Popular Option

Git source control is one of the most popular options. Some teams use open source Git. Others use enterprise Git. Some popular Git source control options include GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket.

Perforce also has Git tools. Helix4Git is a version control with Git that is locked into a Perforce server. This streamlines your pipeline. And Helix TeamHub can host Git repositories.

[Related Blog] Compare Git vs. Perforce >>


SCM Tools — Beyond Git

There are several other source code management tools beyond Git.

These include the following.

Perforce Helix Core

Helix Core is a Perforce source control tool, available for free for up to 5 users. It’s especially well-suited for complex development challenges (such as game development or embedded systems development). And it scales well as teams (and files) grow.

Subversion (SVN)

Subversion is an open source version control software. It mimics some features of Concurrent Versions Systems (CVS) and was popular in the early 2000s. It’s since lost some ground to Git.


IBM Rational ClearCase is another SCM tool. It used to be the cutting edge of technology. However, ClearCase can impede the adoption of DevOps processes, which has led many teams to switch tools.

Team Foundation Server (TFS)

Microsoft TFS is a software tool that combines version control, issue tracking, and ALM. TFS has been used to track changes to source code for the past decade, with different options for on-premises and cloud.


Mercurial is another SCM tool that emerged around the same time as Git. Many teams trust Mercurial to manage large codebases and the history of legacy code.

But What’s the Best Source Control Tool?

There are so many source control tools available, you might wondering… which one is the best?

Helix Core is the best option for any team — from a small team of indie game developers to a large enterprise with 1,000s of developers working on code.

That’s because Helix Core:

  • Scales better than any other tool, as your teams and files grow.
  • Ensures a single source of truth across development teams.
  • Accelerates builds and helps developers work more efficiently.
  • Integrates with your existing tools, making it easy to sync work.

Get Started With Helix Core For Free

See for yourself why Helix Core is the tool of choice for today’s development teams. You can get started with it for free for up to 5 users and 20 workspaces. And using Helix4Git you get version control with Git, plus all the benefits of Helix Core.

Free Source Control With Helix Core