If there is something every developer ought to do often, it is Source Code
Versioning, it is not something new and
not rocket science. Be it a large scale software development or just in
house development, versioning your code can be interesting and can save you a
lot of headaches.
Before I got immersed into source code versioning, what I was
normally doing was to do a backup of the current project I was working on, at the end of each working day, while this is good its not really
efficient. What plunged me into source code versioning was that, there was a day I had
not backed up the project I was working on and I mistakenly deleted a code class, that I had worked on for
more that four hours, I whined through out that day, because it was just four
hours of development time wasted.
Source code versioning can be achieved using a version control system(VCS). VCS
is a system that keeps track of changes made to a file or set of files over time
so that the files can be recalled later if need be. It is a very wise thing to use
a VCS when building softwares because it allows files or even an
entire project to be reverted back to a previous state, files can be compared to
see what changes have been made over time, who last modified a file, when it was
a lot more. Using a VCS also generally means that if you screw things up or lose
some files, you can easily recover them back.
There are various VCS available such as Mercurial, Bazaar, Perforce,
Subversion, Git and so on. Git is a robust VCS, and I prefer it to other VCS
because it makes use of local files and resources on your system for all its
in Git is check-summed before it is stored and is then referred to by that
checksum. This means that Git will know and keep track of any change made to the
file or folder it is monitoring, and files cannot get corrupted without Git
Now, lets get started by downloading and installing the windows version of Git from http://code.google.com/p/msysgit.
After the installation is completed, try and right click any folder in your
system, you will see that two new menu entries have been added to the windows
context menu - Git GUI Here and Git Bash Here,
Thus you have access to a CLI and a GUI for controlling Git.
To work effectively with Git, some basic Git shell commands must be understood,
and I will try to explain them below.
Since the installation is completed successfully, the Git on your system
needs to be setup and configured. You need to set your username and email
address and this should be done after Git installation. So open
your Git Bash, that can be done by right clicking any folder on your system and
select Git Bash Here and then type the command below.
$ git config --global user.name "Ayobami Adewole"
$ git config --global user.email firstname.lastname@example.org
You should substitute your name and your email address appropriately.
To start version controlling and tracking an existing project on your system with Git,
just locate the folder that contains the project solution, files and other
items, right click the folder and select Git Bash Here. Then type the following
command will create a new folder named .git and all necessarty files that Git
needs to track your project effectively in the project folder. But at this
point no file is being tracked yet, you have to explicitly tell Git to start
tracking your files, that can be achieved with
$ git add *.cs
$ git add info.txt
commands tell Git
to start tracking all our c# files in the folder and a text file named info.
Not all files and folder needs to be tracked, for example we might need to tell
Git not to track the bin sub folder in a visual studio project. To achieved
this, the command below is entered in Git Bash in order to generate a .gitignore
After this file has been created, open this file with Notepad and type in all the
sub folders and files that you do not want Git to track and then save it, for example
If you type the command
You can see all the files that have been modified lately and have not yet been
committed and probably new files that you just created and are not yet being tracked
To commit all the changes you have made you need to run the command
$ git commit -a -m 'I just added two new code classes'
command will commit the changes, -a option is to skip the Git staging area and
-m option is the commit message.
There are times when you might mistakenly screw things up and need to revert files or even
an entire project back to its earlier form. Suppose I have an
AccountRepository.cs file that I want to unmodify, I can simply just type the
$ git checkout -- AccountRepository.cs
This comand will revert back the content of the AccountRepository.cs file to what
it was before the last commit was made. The beauty of Git is that any change that have
been committed can be recovered back.
Now, to some folks like me who are not really keen working with command line
interface, there is an extension Git Source Control Provider
which when installed into visual studio can make working with Git interesting,
because everything operation will be performed within the comfort of your visual
studio, be it visual studio 2008, visual studio 2010 and even visual studio 11
beta. Just download the extension from gitscc.codeplex.com
and install it into your version of visual studio.
I will be using visual studio 11 beta, but nothing to worry about, because its
the same approach to all the supported versions of visual studio. Create a new
project, in this case I created a new windows form application and I named it
When the project has succesfully loaded, right click the solution and select New
Repository, this will create a new Git Repository for the project and those
files required by Git, even a .gitignore file would be automatically created for
you with some entries, which you can edit later. You should see a yellow plus
symbol, which indicates that there are new files that have not yet been added to
In your visual studio, you should see a tabbed document with the title GIT
PENDING CHANGES-MASTER, with this tab, you can commit changes, ammend last
commit, stage files and even invoke the Git Bash directly.
In the Git tab you will see files that have been changed, new files that the
need to be staged and commited. To commit changes, in the Git tab, under Changed
Files, right click those files and select stage to stage the files, then type
your comments in the comment textbox and then click Commit to commit the changes
After a successful commit, the icons in front of all the files that Git is
tracking will change to a blue padlock, the moment you make changes to any of
the file, the icon will change to an orange pass mark icon indicating that the file
has been modified.
I hope you find this article helpful.