What Is Source Control? Plus An Overview of SCM Tools
Every development team needs a good way to manage changes and version code in their codebases.
That’s why teams use source control.
What Is Source Control?
Source control tracks and manages changes to code, ensuring that developers are always working on the right version of source code.
Source Control vs. Version Control
Source control and version control are often used interchangeably. However, source control is specific to code. Version control also covers large binary files and digital assets.
Source Control vs. Source Code Management (SCM)
Source control and source code management are used similarly, as well. However, source control is specific to tracking changes in source code. And source code management (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.
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.
How to Manage Source Control
Having a source control system is one thing. Managing it effectively is another.
Here are some best practices to keep in mind.
- Choose the right system. (Helix Core is a great one.)
- Store your code in the system.
- Pull the latest version of the code.
- Commit code often (and make notes).
- 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.
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 systems include GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket.
Perforce also has Git tools. Helix4Git is a Git server inside a Perforce server that brings your Git source code into your pipeline. And Helix TeamHub can host Git repositories.
[Related Blog] Compare Git vs. Perforce >>
Source Control Software — Beyond Git
There are several other source control software options beyond Git.
These include the following.
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 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.
Microsoft TFS is a software tool that combines version control, issue tracking, and ALM. TFS has been used for source control 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 (SCM Tool)?
There are so many SCM tools available, you might wondering… which one is the best?
Helix Core is the best source control tool 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 Perforce Source Control 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.