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Version control systems have been protecting our code for decades. In this movie, I want to give a short overview of version control and how it relates to Visual Studio. Version control, also called source control, is a way to track versions in your software. More precisely, it permits you or your team members to track every single revision made to a project. The change track can be as small as changing one character inside a single text file, up to reorganizing entire directory structures for complex multi-project applications.
All files and changes are stored in a repository. Most often this repository is stored on a server. In some of the newer control systems, like Mercurial, the changes are distributed across multiple developer desktops. Version control takes a snapshot of your project at a moment in time. Anyone with access to your repository can regress to a previous snapshot and investigate the files as they were at that time. Naturally, after working with an older version, you can retrieve the most recent set. Each change is stored separately in the repository.
You never have to worry about overwriting the files. Of course, you'd better have a reliable backup plan for your repository. There are two common metaphors used in source control. The first is Lock-Modify-Unlock model. One person checks out a file, or files. At that moment, the source engine locks the files. All your other team members cannot edit the file while it is checked out. If you have ever worked with someone who forgot to check in a file and then went on sick leave, you know the pain that this type of system can cause.
The second metaphor is the Copy-Modify-Merge model. There is no locking in this model, and anyone is free to get the latest version and change the file. The trouble, if there is any, comes when two or more people edit the file and then check in. The second person gets a warning when checking in their copy. It's their responsibility to merge these changes with the prior check-in. Visual Studio works with both of these models. It really depends on which source control engine you connect to. If you're using Microsoft Team Foundation Server, it supports both models.
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