Best Practices Using Source Control and Git

Source control is an essential practice for software development teams to manage code changes, collaborate effectively, and maintain a stable, functional product. Source control enables developers to track changes, revert to previous versions, and manage code changes collaboratively. Git is the standard for source control right now, and to maximize its benefits, developers must follow best practices to ensure efficiency, consistency, and code quality. In this article, we will explore the best practices for source control.

Make small changes

When working on a project, it's important to commit changes frequently. By committing changes early and often, you can keep track of changes, and it's easier to roll back to an earlier version if needed. It's essential to ensure that each commit is a small, complete unit of work that compiles and tests successfully. Developers should avoid committing unfinished work that could break the build or cause errors in the application. Add to that, we can easily revert and move changes between branches when we commit small changes.

Do not commit personal files

Developers should avoid committing personal files like application settings or SSH keys. These files can contain sensitive information that should not be shared with other team members or stored in the source control repository. Developers should double-check their commits to ensure they do not contain any personal files.

Don't add secrets to the repository.

Update often and right before pushing to avoid merge conflicts.

Updating the code regularly and right before pushing it to a repository can help avoid merge conflicts. It's important to ensure you have the latest version of the code before making changes. This practice ensures that your changes do not conflict with other team members' work. When updating the code, it's essential to merge the changes carefully to avoid introducing errors into the code.

Verify your code change before pushing it to a repository

Before pushing your code changes to the repository, it's important to verify that the code compiles and tests are passing. This practice ensures that your code is functional and does not introduce errors into the codebase. It's also essential to ensure that your code changes meet the project's coding standards and guidelines.

Pay close attention to commit messages

Commit messages provide context and information about the changes made to the code. Therefore, developers should pay close attention to commit messages and ensure they provide sufficient detail about the changes made. Consider commit messages as a mini form of documentation for the change, which will help other team members understand the changes made.

Link code changes to user stories

The act of linking code alterations to user stories ensures that there is a seamless connection between the different needs and the code updates that meet those needs. This practice concretely links what was created or modified and why it was created, helping to ensure that changes are made for a specific reason. This practice also helps team members track the progress of user stories and manage project requirements effectively. If you report an issue, you should review the code history to see why those lines of code were included in the project and analyze if we are affecting any current logic.

You can add the branch's name to your commit message to create an easy way to find a change in the code history. Check this article for more information: Adding Branch Name In The Commit Message Automatically Using Git Hooks (

Be a team player and follow agreed conventions and workflows

Finally, regardless of your background or preferences, being a team player and following agreed conventions and workflows is essential. Consistency is critical to ensure quality, making it easier for team members to review your code, debug, and pick up where you left off. Following agreed conventions and workflows helps maintain code quality, improve collaboration, and achieve project goals.

In conclusion, following best practices for source control can help software development teams work more efficiently and collaboratively and maintain code quality. Following these best practices, you will take advantage of all the features provided by source control and work better with other developers.