What is a code repository?
A code repository, also referred to as a code repo, is a place where developers can store, share and collaborate on the source code of a software project. Beyond the code itself, you can keep documentation, notes, web pages, and other items in your repository.
A code repository is like a library.
A library stores books, a compilation of information and resources, that can be shared by many people. A library has different sections for different types of books, keeping the information it stores in an organized manner. A library also has a system to track who checks out book, ensuring that it tracks version controls of its stock of information.
Some libraries are public, like a local Public Library, whereas other libraries may be private, like a school's library, which is reserved only for students and faculty.
In other words:
A code repository is the home for source code and it's relevant resources, allowing collaboration between developers.
Why is a code repository important?
It's one thing to know what a code repo is, but that is worthless if you don't know why you should know what a code repository in the first place. Let's break down the importance of this tech term based on two high level categories. We'll walk through an explanation as well as provide a score, 1-10, that shows you how much you should care about a code repo.
The first will be if you do not have a product yet. This means that you don't have a physical product. Maybe you're in the ideation phase, or maybe you're almost ready to start development. Whichever it is, we'll get into why a code repository is important and why you should or shouldn't care about it if you do not have a product.
If you don't have a product yet, you should at least know what a code repository is, as you will need to access one in order to build your product. A code repo is the foundation of any software project, so you should be familiar with what it is and the tools out there that your developers will leverage.
The second category is if you do have a live product. Maybe you just launched your business or maybe it's been live for years and you're continuing to improve its quality. Regardless of the scenario, if your product is live, a code repository carries a different weight.
If you do have a product, then you absolutely should know what the term code repository means and how your developers are leveraging it. It's the home to your code, the home to your product. While you don't need to know how to work within the repository, you should be aware of what repo you are using as well as who has access to it.
Examples of code repositories
So you know what a code repository is, by definition. You know if you should care about it or not depending on your situation as a business/company/product. To dig in deeper, we will walk through some tools and processes so we can make sure you really have a solid grasp on a code repo.
We're going to outline here the 3 most common code repos that are used by developers when building out products. Our recommendation is to use one of the following three code repos for your project as they are the most common and function quite similarly, ensuring new developers are familiar with them.
All three of the options above allow for similar functionality. You'll be able to:
- Host and share code publicly or privately
- Collaborate with other developers
- Utilize issue tracking tools
- Leverage code reviews
- Use continuous integration and continuous deployment pipelines (CI/CD pipelines)
- Version control
- Plus, a ton of other features!
- A code repository is the home for source code and it's relevant resources, allowing collaboration between developers.
- Whether you do or don't have a product, you should be familiar with what a code repository is and who will eventually have access to it.
- The three most popular code repos are: GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket