Home / Definitions / Codebase


Ali Azhar
Last Updated June 10, 2022 1:55 am

A codebase is a collection of source code for an application, software component, or software system that can be stored in different types of source code repositories. Learn more about codebases and how they support application functionality in this definition.

What Is a Codebase?

A codebase, sometimes spelled as “code base,” contains the complete human-written source code files to execute, run, or implement an application or software solution. Generic library files, binary files, or generated files are typically not part of a codebase.

Types of Codebases

There are two primary types of codebases: monolithic and distributed codebases. A monolithic codebase contains all code in one place in a single repository. Especially in larger monolithic codebases, there can be multiple and separate components. 

With monolithic code, software integration is simplified but requires a large repository. A distributed codebase has smaller and separated individual repositories, which makes it more manageable. But, on the other hand, any needed integrations become more complex when working with a distributed codebase.

How Are Codebases Used?

Codebases are a fundamental component of computer programming, mobile applications, and software development. The most popular and largest codebases are owned by Facebook and Google, two major enterprises that use a monolithic codebase system to manage hundreds of thousands of files. As another example, the Linux kernel uses a distributed codebase system with over 15 million lines of code. 

Best Practices for Using and Managing a Codebase

A codebase that is created with adequate commenting, proper use of white space, strong organization, and overall programming quality is easier to manage and debug. Some software developers use a version control system and tools to create different versions of the codebase, so they retrieve whichever version they need to. 

Another practice used by software developers is to run code locally in order to find any errors or bugs in the system before the codebase is installed or implemented. Browsing through logs or error messages also helps programmers reveal any issues with a codebase.

Finally, it’s important for larger teams to work with both source code repositories and some kind of collaborative messaging or communication tool in order to effectively manage and update the codebase over time. Internal and external stakeholder requirements can get lost if developer teams do not co-manage the codebase with additional support and documentation.

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