Home / Definitions / Branching


Jenna Phipps
Last Updated May 24, 2021 8:02 am

Branching is a feature of version control that allows developers to test new features within a software or application code before officially joining it with the active source code. A new branch within the code is basically a copied version of the first section of code, but it then receives its own name and can be edited separately. Branching may also be referred to as a stream or tree.

One of the most famous version control platforms that offers branching is Git, developed in 2005 by Linux creator Linus Torvalds.

Version control allows developers to move between different branches in the same section of the program so that they can experiment with features for a new version. However, these changes don’t have to be implemented with the rest of the code right away; they have time for testing. Once branches are ready to be joined, developers will merge them together. Although branching is very helpful for testing sections of code independent of the rest of the program, many developers recommend merging branches regularly so that the code doesn’t have trouble fitting together.

Branching is a crucial part of version control platforms; it permits developers to work on different sections of code simultaneously. Especially in large applications, being able to make concurrent edits without ruining someone else’s work is essential. Branching is just one way for developers to make software more reliable.

Branching differs from forking, in which developers create a new area of the code that’s intended to be independent, never to merge with the existing code.