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Top 5 Free and Open-Source Version Control Tools in 2020

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If you want to work on a big software development project which requires the collaboration of different team members and also need frequent changes during development, then you must use a version control system. Version control helps us to keep track of the changes we made in our code so that if something goes wrong, we can revert back to any previous version that we want. Without VCS it will be a very hectic work to keep track of the changes in our source code where multiple developers are continuously working on the same code. 


The main advantages of VCS include streamlining the development process and keeping a history of all changes within a code. So, if a developer makes a mistake then it can be undone and fixed by comparing the new code with a previous version. Version Control Software(VCS) is also known as Source Code Management(SCM) tools or Revision Control System(RCS) is a great fit for any web development company around the globe. 

1. Git

Git is a free, cross-platform and open-source distributed version control tools available nowadays which provides strong support for non-linear development and is capable of efficiently handling everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency. Local branching, convenient staging areas, and multiple workflows are some important features of git. It also offers a wide variety of tools to help us navigate through the history and each instance of the source contains the entire history tree, which helps a lot during development even without Internet. 

  • Super-fast and Cross-platform.
  • Offline full history tree
  • Distributed, peer-to-peer model
  • Easy and clear track of code changes
  • Cheap branch operations and robust.
  • Amazing command-line as git bash.
  • Complex and bigger history log becomes very hectic for single developer
  • Not optima because it doesn’t support keyword expansion and timestamp preservation
  • Provides Limited Windows support compared to Linux

2. Concurrent Versions System (CVS)

CVS is another most popular version control system, an important component of Source Configuration Management (SCM) which remains the tool of choice among developers since 80s. You can record the history of sources files, and documents very easily with the help of CVS. It fills a similar role to the free software RCS, PRCS, and Aegis packages and handle conflicts between two programmers by only allowing for the latest version of the code to be worked on and updated. It exclude the symbolic links to avoid the security risk and uses the delta compression technique for efficient storage utilization. 

  • Matured technology with cross-platform support,
  • Instant help and support from vast CVS community
  • Robust and fully-featured powerful command-line
  • Multiple developers might work on the same project parallel.
  • Source corruption due to lack of support for atomic check-outs and commits,
  • No integrity checking for source code,
  • Poor support for distributed source control
  • Expensive branch operations as it is not designed for long-term branching

3. Apache Subversion (SVN): 

It is a free and open-source software best-matched successor to the widely used CVS tool and was created as an alternative to CVS after fixing the bugs and cons of CVS system while maintaining high compatibility with it and that’s why Many developers switched to SVN for the best and improved features of CVS. 

SVN employs the concept of atomic operations to prevent corruption in the database which was a major con of CVS. In atomic operation, all or none of the changes made to the source are applied so that no partial changes will break the original source. While CVS’s branch operations are expensive, SVN’s branching operation is cheap and not dependent upon the file size which makes it better to large, forked projects with many directions. 

  • Supports atomic operations to prevent corruption
  • Free-form versioned metadata
  • Supports empty directories and cheaper branch operations
  • Have better windows support as compared to Git
  • Wide variety of plug-ins for leading IDE and Agile tools.
  • Insufficient repository management commands and no support for signed revisions,
  • Much Slower speed compare to git
  • contains bugs relating to filename normalization and directories

4. Mercurial

It is a free,open-source and distributed source control management tool which efficiently handles projects of any size and offers an easy and intuitive interface. It is a major competitor of git written in python programming language and supported in various os like Mac, Windows, Linux etc. It is well know for it’s high performance, robustness and scalability. It Possesses an integrated web interface and capable of Advanced branching and merging. 

  • Fast and powerful
  • It is easy to learn,
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Much simpler than other complicated VCSs.
  • No Partial checkouts
  • Supports only the add-ons written in Python
  • Extension-based hence quite problematic with additional extensions

5. Bazaar

It is a version control system which helps you track development history and easy collaboration with other developers which can be a single developer, a co-located team or a community of developers across the globe. It scales and adapts to meet your needs. It is a free, open-source, and distributed Version Control software which provides a great user-friendly experience, sponsored by Canonical and is much Similar to Git and Mercurial. It is the most versatile version control system that supports various different forms of workflow, from centralized to decentralized, allows you to work with or without a central server with a number of different variations acknowledged throughout. 

  • Powerful and cross platform
  • High speed and efficient storage utilization
  • Rename tracking and smart merging
  • Its plugin system is fairly easy to use
  • access a very detailed level of control in its setup
  • Doesn’t support the partial checkouts and cloning,
  • Does not provide timestamp preservation
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Last Updated : 25 Feb, 2022
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