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What is Source Code Management

Source code management (from English Source Code ManagementSCM) is used to track modifications to a repository source code for a software development project.

SCM monitors the history of changes running in a codebase and helps resolve conflicts when merging updates from multiple schedulers. SCM is also synonymous with version control.

As software projects grow in lines of code and number of contributors, the costs of communication overhead and management complexity also increase.

SCM is a critical tool for organizationally improving the growing complexities of software development.

Video lesson of the Basic and Essential Git course

The importance of source code management tools

When several developers are working collaboratively, it is common to make changes to a shared piece of code.

Separate developers may be working on a seemingly isolated feature, however that feature may use a shared code module.

So developer 1 who is working on feature 1 might make some edits and find later that developer 2 who is working on feature 2 has conflicting edits to the same file or set of files.

Without SCM adoption, this is a nightmare scenario.

For example, developers can edit text files directly and move them to remote locations using FTP or other protocols.

Imagine that Developer 1 makes edits, then Developer 2 unknowingly saves his edits over Developer 1's work and erases the changes.

The role of SCM as a protection mechanism against this specific scenario is known as Version control.

read the article Version Control – What is it? to deepen your knowledge of this concept.

SCM

Source Code Management brought in version control protections to prevent loss of work due to overwriting conflicts.

These safeguards work by tracking each developer's changes individually, identifying areas of conflict, and preventing overlapping writes of portions of code.

SCM will then communicate these conflict points to the developers so they can safely review and resolve them before merging their changes into the final version.

This basic conflict avoidance mechanism has the beneficial side effect of providing passive communication to the development team.

This way the team can follow up and discuss the work in progress that source code management is monitoring.

SCM tracks the entire history of changes to the codebase. This allows developers to examine and review edits they may have introduced. bugs (errors) or feature regressions. That is, lost work when a change is overwritten with an old version of code.

Git Log auxiliando no gerenciamento do códifo-fonte
Example of a Git-managed project history

The benefits of source code management

In addition to version control, SCM provides a set of other useful features to make collaborative code development a more user-friendly experience.

Once SCM starts tracking all changes to a project over time, it creates a detailed historical record of the life of the project.

This historical record can then be used to “undo” changes to the codebase. SCM can instantly revert the codebase to an earlier point in time.

This is extremely valuable for avoiding upgrade regressions and undoing errors.

The Versioning file of each change during a project's lifetime provides a valuable record for a project's release version notes (annotations, comments).

A clean and maintained SCM history log with good description of changes can be used interchangeably as release notes.

This provides insight and transparency into the progress of a project that can be shared with end users or non-software development teams.

Source code management will reduce a team's communication overhead and increase the speed of releasing new versions.

Without SCM, development is slower because contributors have to put in extra effort to plan a non-overlapping sequence from development to release.

How software versioning, developers can work independently on separate branches of feature development, eventually merging them.

Branches are isolated timelines called branch.

Overall, source code management is a great help for software engineering teams, it reduces development costs by allowing engineering resources to run more efficiently.

SCM is essential in the era modern software development.

Professional teams use version control and your team should too.

Summary

  • Versioning by source code management is an invaluable tool for modern software development.
  • The best software teams practice software versioning and your team should too.
  • Source code management is very easy to set up in a new project and the return on investment is high.

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To learn more about software versioning, source code management, and the tools used to run it, like git, Github and gitlab, read my articles:

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