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Becoming a Software Developer Part 3: Version Control for Fun and Profit

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Although version control is an old technology, few developers take the time to think about how it can help them become more effective. This article looks at how frequent versioning can take some of the stress out of software development.
Pete McBreen is the author of Software Craftsmanship: The New Imperative (Addison-Wesley, 2001, ISBN 0-201-73386-2). Software Craftsmanship is the winner of the Productivity Award for Software Development magazine's 12th Annual Jolt Awards (see http://www.sdmagazine.com/jolts/).
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In this third article in my "Becoming a Software Developer" series, I'm going to step away from programming for a short while and look at an issue that affects all software developers—how to manage all of the changing versions of files as a project moves forward.

Most developers have been bitten by a small change somewhere breaking the application somewhere else. Normally it starts fairly innocently. You run your application to check that a new feature works—and discover that something else has stopped working. Being a careful developer, you try running the version you saved last night. Horror of horrors, that doesn't work either, even though you know it was working yesterday. In desperation, you try a different version on another machine; it sort of works, but other things are broken...welcome to the nightmare.

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