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Source Control


This is not a coverage of all features of source control. It is simply an introduction to them.

Source control, also known as version control, is a system that manages changes to files over time, particularly in software development projects. It keeps files synchronized between multiple developers working in the same codebase while providing a historical view of the progression of a project.

Imagine you're working on a 2D game project, and you end up with a large number of files in a project. Picture a scenario where you are doing this without source control, but disaster strikes – your hard drive crashes, and your project vanishes into thin air.

Without source control in place, there is no way to recover it. You may have planned for this in other ways like backing up the hard drive or project manually, but how often would you do this? You will always run the risk of losing progress without some form of source control. The same scenario presents itself when you had a feature working a certain way but removed it as it was no longer needed, this workflow is destructive in general.

Now picture working within a team of people, without source control, co-ordinating efforts, and consolidating changes from different contributors becomes a huge pain. Just having to manually merge the file changes yourself would have a host of its own issues. Ultimately this would lead to inconsistencies, conflicts, and lost progress.

This is where source control steps in and saves the day. It will track any modifications made to any files living in a Repository. In this case, it's the version of your project that lives on GitHub. Your local version of the project is a copy. It's important to understand that as you are changing the contents of files, the source control detects local changes that differ from its own. These local changes can be synced with the repository (uploaded and downloaded), adding a new version of each file that has changed.



Key Concepts


  • A repository, or repo, is a central location where all project files and their version history are stored.


  • A snapshot of the project or file at a specific point in time. When a developer makes changes to files, they create a commit to record those changes along with a descriptive message explaining the modifications.


  • Branches are snapshots that represent different states of a repository. Developers can create branches to work on new features or experiments without affecting the main codebase. Once the changes are tested and/or approved, they can be merged back into the main branch.


  • Merging is the process of combining changes from one branch into another. When a feature is complete and tested, developers merge the changes from their feature branch into the main branch.

Conflict Resolution:

  • Conflicts may arise when multiple developers modify the same file simultaneously. Source control systems provide mechanisms to identify and resolve these conflicts.

These are just a few areas that source control can be useful in, but we haven't even scratched the surface.
As you complete modules you will build on this initial knowledge and gain a much deeper understanding of source control through practical use.


GitHub is a platform built on top of Git. It extends the capabilities of Git to facilitate collaboration and project management. GitHub provides a centralized repository for managing changes to files over time, allowing multiple developers to work together on the same codebase seamlessly. It acts as a secure free cloud storage for your project files, eliminating the risk of losing progress while avoiding a destructive workflow.

It provides web-based interfaces that allow developers to visualize project history, track modifications to files, and manage project milestones easily. By leveraging GitHub, developers can synchronize their local copies of the project with the remote repository, ensuring that all changes are accurately tracked.

GitHub's popularity stems from its user-friendly interface and large community. It isn't targeted directly at a specific area of software development but rather encompases them all. This attracts a diverse range of developers and projects to the platform. Another cool fact is that GitHub hosts the largest collection of open-source code on the internet.

How does it Work?

To get started with GitHub, you first need to create an account by visiting the GitHub website and signing up with your email address. Once you've created an account, you can customize your profile with information about yourself and from there it's a case of creating a repository for an active project your working on.

What is a Repository on GitHub?

A repository is a storage space where all the files and data associated with a project are stored and managed. It serves as a container for organizing, versioning, and collaborating on software development projects. Each repository on GitHub typically represents a single project, such as a software application, a game or even a website like this one (which is actually hosted on GitHub).


GitHub is not the only source control around, in later modules we will discuss Perforce which follows the same principles but with some key differences that make it more useful for larger teams and projects that contain files that cannot be merged. Another worthy mention is GitLab, which you can actually host a version of privately which comes with it's own benefits.

You should now understand why source control systems are an important part of the development process. Again we have just scraped the surface here and we will be developing practical skills for everything discussed and more throughout the modules.

As a next step, I would highly recommend anyone starting out to watch this video from Kevin Stratvert.
It is split up with time-stamps but is worth a watch if you want a more in-depth explanation on key areas.