CVS Version Control for Web Site Projects

by Volker Weber

Version control is a special kind of software used to track and manage changes. In our case, CVS version control is used to track any sort of change made to our web sites, whether it's a single edit of one file to fix a typo, or a series of adjustments to a project where several files, folders, and graphics are added to (or removed from) the site.

In an uncontrolled site where multiple authors have access to edit and contribute, the potential for conflict and problems arises--more so when these authors work from different offices at different times of day and night. You may spend the day improving the file index.html for a customer. After you've made your changes, another developer who works at home after hours, or in another office, may spend the night uploading their own newly revised version of the file index.html, completely overwriting your work with no way to get it back!

With the same site under CVS version control, the late-night author will be alerted to a conflict with the file index.html, presented with the exact parts of the index.html file that are causing a problem, and asked to adjust their work to incorporate anything you added and committed to the site while working on it earlier in the day.

If a customer needs to remove a recently added page or content area for legal reasons--or if they simply prefer an earlier version of their site--CVS can be used to restore the entire site to any previous state of their choosing, rolling back multiple variations and edits by all authors until a satisfactory site can be put back in place.

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