DEV Community

Max Lockwood
Max Lockwood

Posted on • Originally published at maxlockwood.dev

Git for Beginners: Mastering the Fundamentals of Version Control

Git for Beginners: Mastering the Fundamentals of Version Control

Git is a version control system that has become one of the most widely used tools in the software development industry.

It was created in 2005 by Linus Torvalds for the development of the Linux kernel, and has since become an essential tool for managing source code in software development projects.

This article will provide a comprehensive overview of Git, including its history, basic concepts and commands, collaboration features, hosting options, advanced techniques, best practices, and troubleshooting tips.

Whether you are new to Git or an experienced user, this article will provide you with a thorough understanding of how Git works and how it can benefit your software development workflow.

Introduction to Git

What is Git?

Git is a distributed version control system used for tracking changes in source code during software development. In simpler terms, Git allows developers to keep a record of changes made to their code over time and collaborate with others on a project. It’s similar to a filing system for code with the added benefit of version control.

Why Use Git?

Git has many benefits for developers and businesses. It allows teams to work collaboratively on a project, keeping a record of all changes made to the code. Git also provides a backup of the code, making it easier to restore previous versions if errors are introduced. Additionally, Git enables developers to work on multiple branches of code simultaneously, allowing for more efficient and effective software development.

Understanding the Version Control System

What is Version Control?

Version control is the practice of tracking changes made to a codebase over time. It allows developers to keep a historical record of changes and revert to previous versions if needed. Version control also facilitates collaboration among team members working on the same codebase.

Types of Version Control Systems

There are two main types of version control systems: centralised and distributed.

  • Centralised version control systems have a single repository that serves as the authoritative source for the codebase.
  • Distributed version control systems like Git have multiple repositories, each acting as a complete copy of the codebase.

How Git Works

Git works by tracking changes made to the codebase and storing those changes in a repository. This repository can be stored locally or remotely, allowing for collaboration with other developers. Git uses a system of branches to allow multiple developers to work on different versions of the codebase, which can then be merged back together.

Git Basics – Commands and Features

Git is a popular version control system used by developers to manage and collaborate on their code. Mastering the basics of Git is essential for beginners to effectively use Git in their development projects. Here are the steps to get started:

  1. Install Git: First, install Git on your local machine. You can download it from the official Git website and follow the installation instructions.
  2. Create a new Git repository: Once Git is installed, create a new Git repository by using the git init command in the terminal or command prompt. This will create a new repository in your current directory.
  3. Configure Git: Next, configure your Git username and email using the git config command. This information will be used to identify your commits.
  4. Add files to the repository: Use the git add command to add files to your repository. You can add individual files or entire directories.
  5. Make a commit: Once you have added files to the repository, use the git commit command to make a commit. A commit is a snapshot of your changes and should include a meaningful commit message.
  6. Check the status: Use the git status command to check the status of your repository. This will show you any files that have been modified or added since your last commit.
  7. Create branches: Use the git branch command to create a new branch in your repository. Branches allow you to work on different features or changes without affecting the main codebase.
  8. Switch branches: Use the git checkout command to switch between branches. This will allow you to work on different branches and merge them together later.
  9. Merge branches: Use the git merge command to merge branches together. This will combine the changes from one branch into another.
  10. Push changes to a remote repository: Use the git push command to push your changes to a remote repository, such as GitHub or Bitbucket. This will allow others to see and collaborate on your code.

By following these steps, you can start mastering the basics of Git and effectively manage your code changes in a collaborative development environment.

FAQ

What is the difference between Git and GitHub?

Git is a version control system that allows developers to manage source code efficiently. GitHub, on the other hand, is a web-based hosting service that provides a platform for storing Git repositories. While Git provides the version control features, GitHub provides additional features such as collaboration tools, issue tracking, and project management.

Do I need to know how to code to use Git?

While Git was initially designed for software developers, you do not need to know how to code to use Git. In fact, Git can be used for any type of file, not just code. You can use Git to track changes in documents, spreadsheets, and other types of files.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when using Git?

One common mistake is to commit large files or binary files to Git. This can bloat the repository and slow down performance. Another mistake is to commit sensitive information such as passwords or API keys to the repository. It is important to use git ignore to manage what files are committed and to keep sensitive information out of the repository.

Can I use Git if I am working alone?

Yes, Git can be used by individuals as well as teams. Even if you are working alone, using Git can help you keep track of changes to your files and revert to previous versions if necessary. Git also provides a backup of your files, so you can be sure that your data is safe even if your computer crashes or gets lost.

Further reading

Want to learn more about version control? Then check out – Git and GitHub – Learn web development | MDN

If you liked this article, then please share. You can also find me on Twitter for more updates.

Top comments (4)

Collapse
 
ant_f_dev profile image
Anthony Fung

Great overview!

For anyone on Windows, I highly recommend Git Extensions. It's a free Git client with a UI. As most of the Git commands run in a popup console, it can help with learning too as it shows what commands were issued.

Collapse
 
max88git profile image
Max Lockwood

Thank you for your feedback! That's a great suggestion about Git Extensions for Windows users. The UI and command history feature can definitely be beneficial for learning and visualising Git commands.

Collapse
 
ant_f_dev profile image
Anthony Fung

No problem, Max.

I forgot to mention: it's not just for beginners - there's a lot you can do in it. I've been coding for 10+ years and I still use a combination of Git Extensions and command line.

For day-to-day usage, the commit search is very useful. And the commit graph is higher resolution than console output, so easier to read.

Collapse
 
ebuka1anthony profile image
ebuka anthony

simple & precise outline