What Is Git: Full Introduction to the Key Features and Benefits

Complete guide explaining what is git

Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just dipping your toes in the coding world, understanding the question, “What is Git?” is pivotal. Git, a versatile and powerful version control system, is an essential tool developers use to manage, track, and collaborate on their code. 

But before diving deeper, it’s crucial to highlight a key fact: 

Git is not a programming language, and hence it doesn’t require an intricate understanding of coding. Instead, it calls for a fundamental grasp of Windows commands or similar operating system interfaces. 

In this article, we’re going to unpack the essential features, advantages, and elements of Git, including what a Git repository is and how Git operates. Welcome to your comprehensive guide on the significance of Git in the realm of development.

What Is Git?

In the software development world, Git is a household name, but what exactly is it? Simply put, Git is a distributed version control system (VCS) created by Linus Torvalds, the man also behind the Linux operating system. Born in 2005 out of frustration with the concurrent VCS, Git was designed to handle everything from small to large projects with speed and efficiency. Its primary function is to record changes to a file or set of files over time, enabling you to revisit specific versions later. Moreover, Git lets you manage your codebase, keeping track of the changes made by different contributors, thus making collaboration a breeze. With an understanding of what is Git repository, you’ll find that Git becomes an even more powerful tool in your coding arsenal. This fundamental grasp of Git will serve as the foundation of this comprehensive guide.

Why Is Git’s Version Control System Necessary?

Imagine working on a project without a version control system like Git. A single misstep could lead to the loss of valuable code, and collaboration would be a nightmare. But with Git, you can fearlessly experiment with your code. If things go away, Git allows you to revert back to a previous state. It provides an efficient platform to handle various versions of your project, tracks each modification by each contributor, and helps resolve conflicts. This is why Git’s version control system is indispensable in modern software development.

Features of Git

Open Source 

One of the primary characteristics that set Git apart is that it’s an open-source tool. It was released under the General Public License (GPL), inviting developers from around the globe to contribute and improve its capabilities. This collaborative nature constantly propels Git forward.


When it comes to managing an increasing number of users or handling an expanding project, Git exhibits superior scalability. This adaptability ensures its aptness for any project, from personal assignments to extensive enterprise-level tasks.


A key feature of Git is its distributed architecture. Instead of relying on constant connectivity to a remote repository like some version control systems, Git allows the creation of a “clone” of the entire repository. Each user possesses a local repository housing the complete commit history of the project. Changes can be made and stored locally without needing to connect to the remote repository. When necessary, these changes can then be pushed to the remote repository.


Prioritizing safety, Git uses the Secure Hash Function (SHA1) to name and identify objects within its database. This way, files and commits are reliably checked and retrieved by their checksum at the time of checkout. Furthermore, Git’s storage technique ensures the ID of a specific commit relies on the full development history leading up to that commit, making it virtually impossible to alter past versions once they’re published.

Git system security setup


Git takes pride in its speed. Most operations occur on the local repository, avoiding the latency of network communication, thus providing a significant speed boost. Its core part is written in C, which avoids runtime overheads associated with other high-level languages. Performance tests conducted by Mozilla proved Git’s speed superiority against other version control systems.

Supports Non-linear Development 

Git’s support for seamless branching and merging fosters a non-linear development environment. This not only helps in visualizing the project’s progression but also makes navigating through different development paths a breeze.

Branching and Merging 

One of Git’s unique attributes is its comprehensive support for branching and merging, features that set it apart from other Software Configuration Management (SCM) tools. With Git, you can create, delete, and merge branches without interfering with each other’s work. Each branch is essentially a new environment, allowing developers to experiment without fear of disrupting the main project.

Data Assurance 

Every unit of your project is cryptographically assured with Git’s data model. Git provides a unique commit ID to every commit through the SHA algorithm. This ID allows you to retrieve and update a specific commit easily. Such an integrity guarantee is rarely found in centralized version control systems.

Staging Area 

Another exclusive feature of Git is its staging area—an intermediate area where commits can be formatted and reviewed before being finalized. The staging area gives you the flexibility to add and remove changes before they become part of a commit.

Clean History Maintenance 

The feature that contributes to Git’s uniqueness among other SCM tools is its ability to maintain a clean history. The Git Rebase functionality fetches the latest commits from the master branch and places your code on top, providing a clean and straightforward project history. These features contribute significantly to Git’s appeal within the developer community. They enhance code integrity, facilitate collaborative programming, and streamline development processes. If you’ve been asking, “what is Git,” now you know it’s more than just a tool. It’s a game-changer for developers worldwide. Additionally, if you’re wondering what Git stands for, it represents a “global information tracker,” further emphasizing its purpose and functionality. Now, with a comprehensive understanding of Git’s capabilities, it’s easy to see why this tool is preferred for both beginners and professionals.

Why Use Git?

Features such as distributed version control, non-linear development support, and the capability to handle large projects make it an industry standard.

  • Promotes collaboration: Git allows multiple developers to work on the same codebase without overwriting each other’s work. Changes are neatly packed into commits, fostering a creative and innovative environment.
  • Distributed Version Control System: Git provides each developer with a complete copy of the entire codebase. This feature permits work in isolation, enhancing productivity and efficiency. Furthermore, Git guarantees data integrity, reducing the chances of accidental data corruption.

Guarantees data integrity: When you’re working with Git, data integrity is assured. Git uses a hashing algorithm called SHA1 to keep track of changes. This ensures that the data you commit to the repository remains the same when you retrieve it later, thereby reducing the chances of accidental data corruption.

But what if you’re new to Git and looking for resources to understand and master it? Here’s where WildLearner’s Git programming course comes into play. This medium-difficulty course, which you can complete in just 3 hours, requires no prerequisites. It’s specifically designed to help beginners gain a solid understanding of Git and its operation.

WildLearner Git programing course

The course gives an extensive introduction to Git and version control, tracking file changes, and collaboration strategies. It’s perfectly suited for those eager to grasp how multiple developers can work simultaneously on the same codebase without overwriting each other’s work. Also, learn how to revert to previous versions of the code when necessary. 

Git, being an industry standard for version control, is widely used by developers. Acquiring proficiency in Git not only equips you with a highly sought-after skill but also offers a competitive edge in the dynamic world of software development. Don’t miss this chance to upskill yourself with WildLearner!

Git Benefits

Our answer to the question “What is Git?” wouldn’t be complete without recognizing its significant benefits:

  • Performance: Git’s speed stands out, with each command taking seconds to execute, saving developers valuable time.
  • Offline Working: Git’s Distributed Version Control System supports offline work, a feature unique to Git that enables you to continue your work even without internet connectivity.
  • Undo Mistakes: Git’s ability to undo changes rescues developers from unintended actions, highlighting its flexibility.
  • Track Changes: If you’ve ever wondered, “What is Git repository?” and how it aids in tracking changes, here’s the answer. Git equips developers with a set of powerful tools like Diff, Log, and Status, enabling you to monitor modifications, compare files or branches, and check the status of your project at any point.
  • Security: Git uses a cryptographic method called SHA1 to manage versions, ensuring data integrity. This high degree of security is a standout feature when considering “what is Git.”
  • Flexibility: Git stands for “global information tracker,” and it lives up to its name by enabling developers to work on multiple branches without conflicts. This flexibility boosts collaboration, allowing team members to experiment independently.

By mastering Git and understanding its benefits, developers gain an edge in software development, boosting productivity, ensuring data integrity, and streamlining collaboration. Indeed, Git stands as more than just a tool. It’s a strategic asset in the dynamic world of software development.

Git Drawbacks

It’s also essential to acknowledge some of its criticisms:

  • Complex Learning Curve: One common criticism of Git is its steep learning curve. The terminology in Git may be novel to newcomers and can be different for users familiar with other systems. For instance, the term ‘revert’ in Git has a different meaning than in SVN or CVS. Mastering these terminologies and using Git’s capabilities effectively can take time.
  • Adapting to Distributed VCS: Teams transitioning from a non-distributed VCS may initially struggle with Git’s distributed nature. They might perceive having a central repository as a valuable asset they don’t want to lose. However, while Git is a distributed version control system (DVCS), it can still maintain an official, canonical repository where all changes must be stored.
  • Dependence on Availability of the Central Server: With Git, each developer’s repository is complete, allowing work without constraint by the central server’s availability and performance. While this is generally a positive point, some teams may need time to adapt to this operational change. Git’s flexibility can be a double-edged sword, providing significant advantages but also demanding a change in accustomed work methods.

While these criticisms exist, the consensus remains that Git’s benefits outweigh these drawbacks, making it a worthwhile tool to learn and use.

How long does it take to learn a coding language

Git operates as a distributed version control system, meaning it functions independently of a central repository, unlike centralized VCSs which need a server or hosting service. Every user maintains a local copy, also known as a “clone,” of the repository, including its entire history. This approach ensures each clone serves as a backup, thus eliminating any single point of failure. The majority of operations are executed locally, reducing the impact of network latency issues.

After installing Git, users might be wondering, ‘What is Git Bash?’ It’s a way for them to interact with their repositories through terminal commands or use a graphical user interface such as Sourcetree or GitHub Desktop. They have the option to initiate their own projects or join existing ones. To join a project, users clone the repository to their local system.

In a user’s local repository, files always exist in one of three states:

  1. Modified: Users have changed one or more files but haven’t staged or committed them yet. These changes occur in the working directory, the project folder hosting the repository. Files added or changed in this folder are considered “modified” until they are staged.
  2. Staged: Users have marked the new or modified files as ready to be committed to the repository. Staged files are moved to the “staging area,” a logical, intermediate space for reviewing files before committing. These files are tracked in a special file named “index.”
  3. Committed: Users commit the staged files to the repository. Each commit operation signifies a version of the repository and is assigned a unique checksum (SHA1), which is used to reference the commit in future operations.

Post-committing the local changes, Git enables users to push and pull changes directly between each other, bypassing the need for a central repository, thus demonstrating its flexibility and adaptability.

Key Takeaways

Understanding “What is Git?” is an indispensable skill in modern software development. The system’s essential features for managing, tracking, and collaborating on code, combined with the support for non-linear development and unique capabilities, make Git a game-changer for developers worldwide. The power of Git extends to enabling developers to work on multiple branches without conflicts, promote collaboration, and ensure data integrity. Its distributed architecture and unique capabilities make it indispensable in the developer’s toolkit.

Are you ready to make the most of Git in your coding journey?

Visit WildLearner today to explore our comprehensive tutorials and in-depth courses, enabling you to leverage Git’s capabilities and transform your programming practices.

Learn coding online for free