If you are like me, you “learned” source control in a very informal manner. Perhaps you learned via what we used to call the “Commodore Shuffle” back in the day (what is the modern term for this?) in which you clicked around and figured it out by trying to use it.

Heck, with Visual Studio integration, Visual Source Safe is pretty easy to learn. When you double click a file to edit it, VSS kicks in and asks you to check it out. That effectively puts that file under lock and key and nobody else can edit that sucker until you check it back in.

For several years, I thought this process defined source control (also called version control). Up until working professionally, I had never even heard of source control. My college computer science courses never covered it. Why should they? Everything we wrote for class was pretty much throwaway code.

Fortunately Eric Sink comes along and enlightens the masses with his series on Source Control called Source Control HOWTO. If there are better or equivalent series on this topic, let me know in the comments.

This is the guide I wished I had when first starting out. If you think you know source control, but have never created a branch in your life, have never worked with an optimistic locking version control system, then you owe it to yourself to read this series and gain an understanding of these topics, whether you end up using them or not.