Easy Version Control with Git

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What is Git?
Git is a open-source code managemen tool; it was created by Linus Torvalds when he was building the Linux kernel. Because of those roots, it needed to be really fast; that it is, and easy to get the hang of as well. Git allows you to work on your code with the peace of mind that everything you do is reversible. It makes it easy to experiment with new ideas in a project and not worry about breaking anything. The Git Parable, by Tom Preston-Werner, is a great introduction to the terms and ideas behind Git.

Why Should I use Git?
You should definitely use a revision control system; as we already said, this gives you the freedom to do whatever you want with your code and not worry about breaking it. So if you’ve realized the benefits of using a revision control system, why should you use git? Why not SVN or Perforce or another one? To be honest, I haven't studied the differences too closely; check out WhyGitIsBetterThanX.com for some helpful info.

How do I Get Set Up?
Git is pretty easy to get: on a Mac, it’s probably easiest to use the git-osx-installer. If you have MacPorts installed, you may want to get Git through it; you can find instructions on the GitHub help site. (And yes, we’ll talk about GitHub). On Windows, the simplest way to start rolling is to use the msysgit installer. However, if you’ve got Cygwin, you can git Git through there as well.

How do I use Git?
By now you should have Git installed; if you’re on a Mac, open up a terminal; if you’re on Windows open the Git Bash (from msysgit) or your Cygwin prompt. From here on, there shouldn’t be any OS differences.


We’ll start by doing a bit of configuration. Every commit you make will have your name and email address to identify the ‘owner’ of the commit, so you should start by giving it those values. To do so, run these commands:

git config --global user.name "Your Name"
git config --global user.email "your@email.com"
It's also nice to enable some text coloring, just for easier reading in the terminal.

git config --global color.diff auto
git config --global color.status auto
git config --global color.branch auto
git init

Now that Git knows who you are, let’s imagine we’re creating a simple PHP web app. (Of course, the bigger the project, the brighter Git shines, but we’re just learning the tools, right?) We’ve got an empty directory called ‘mySite.’ First focus on that directory (using the cd command). To get started with Git, you need to run the git init command; as you might guess, this initializes a Git repository in that folder, adding a .git folder within it. A repository is kind of like a code history book. It will hold all the past versions of your code, as well as the current one.