19 Aug 2013

The importance of version control when releasing software

  • Testing

All good software development suites have mechanisms for effectively controlling versions through development.  However, when software is released to the customer it is crucial that the version of any given software can be easily identified.  Versions are often displayed on the front end of software, making it easy to identify for any user or support party.  However, there are inherent problems with this; is the display of the version correct? Is the updating of the display a manual process open to error?  I have seen and rectified situations where well meaning procedures are set up whereby version numbers for deliverables are documented in release notes, but then either not displayed on the front end or procedure relies on the customer to update the display of the version number, most notably with CMS web solutions.

There can be no substitute for having version control automated and written within application files.  If you are uncertain about the version being used, reproducing and remedying issues can be very inefficient.

Version numbering should allow sufficient room to distinguish between major version upgrades and interim releases and patches.  Always consider your approach to version control before you start and consider the relationship of versions between different components of a technical solution and keep documentation up to date so that a project always knows which versions are at which stage and on which environment.

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