At a high level, GitHub is a website and cloud-based service that helps developers store and manage their code, as well as track and control changes to their code. To understand exactly what GitHub is, you need to know two connected principles:
- Version control
GitHub is a Git repository hosting service. GitHub also facilitates with many of its features, such as access control and collaboration. It provides a Web-based graphical interface.
GitHub is an American company. It hosts source code of your project in the form of different programming languages and keeps track of the various changes made by programmers.
It offers both distributed version control and source code management (SCM) functionality of Git. It also facilitates with some collaboration features such as bug tracking, feature requests, task management for every project.
Git is open-source version control software, used for managing and tracking file revisions. You can use Git with any file type, but it’s most often used for tracking code files.
Git is the most widely used version control system in software development, and GitHub leverages this technology for its service, hence its name.
Version control helps developers track and manage changes to a software project’s code. As a software project grows, version control becomes essential. Take WordPress…
At this point, WordPress is a pretty big project. If a core developer wanted to work on one specific part of the WordPress codebase, it wouldn’t be safe or efficient to have them directly edit the “official” source code.
Instead, version control lets developers safely work through branching and merging.
With branching, a developer duplicates part of the source code (called the repository). The developer can then safely make changes to that part of the code without affecting the rest of the project.
Then, once the developer gets his or her part of the code working properly, he or she can merge that code back into the main source code to make it official.
All of these changes are then tracked and can be reverted if need be.
Features of GitHub
GitHub is a place where programmers and designers work together. They collaborate, contribute, and fix bugs together. It hosts plenty of open source projects and codes of various programming languages.
Some of its significant features are as follows.
- Integrated issue and bug tracking
- Graphical representation of branches
- Git repositories hosting
- Project management
- Team management
- Code hosting
- Track and assign tasks
Benefits of GitHub
GitHub can be separated as the Git and the Hub. GitHub service includes access controls as well as collaboration features like task management, repository hosting, and team management.
The key benefits of GitHub are as follows.
- It is easy to contribute to open source projects via GitHub.
- It helps to create an excellent document.
- You can attract recruiter by showing off your work. If you have a profile on GitHub, you will have a higher chance of being recruited.
- It allows your work to get out there in front of the public.
- You can track changes in your code across versions.
How to Get Started Using GitHub
Sold on GitHub? Here’s how to get started. A quick note: You should get comfortable using the command line before working with GitHub, as Git uses the terminal as its interface.
1. Install GIT.
Install the latest version of Git on your device. You’ll need Git installed to work with your GitHub repository. There are various ways to do this, so follow the recommendations on the Git website. The Git software is free.
2. Sign up for GitHub.
After installing Git, go to GitHub’s website and create an account with your email address.
3. Start a repository.
Once your GitHub account is set up, you’ll be taken to your dashboard. To start your first repository, click Create repository. This lets you keep all of your code for your new GitHub project in one place.
4. Name your project.
On the Create a new repository screen, enter your repository name and an optional description (you can change both later).
5. Add project details.
On the same screen, add a README file (a text file that describes your project, and a best practice in development), a .gitignore (which removes irrelevant files like .DS_Store), and a license for your project.
These details make it easier for collaborators to understand your project and any guidelines you’d like them to follow.
6. Create your repository.
Click Create repository. You’ll be taken to your main repository page, which lists your files.
7. Create a local copy of your repository.
You’ll now create a local copy of your GitHub repository (or in GitHub terms, “clone” your repository) where you’ll edit your files and push your changes. On your main repository page, click the green Code button, then copy the HTTPS URL of your repository.
You already have a copy of your project on your hard drive, so why do you need to clone your repository? This is a best practice because it makes it easy to see when people added or removed files. It also makes it easier to fix merge conflicts.
8. Choose a directory.
Open your terminal and navigate to the directory you want to place your repository copy.
9. Paste your repository URL.
In the terminal, enter git clone. After this paste in the repository URL that you previously copied. Your command should look like this:
10. Clone and check your copied repository.
Press Enter to clone the repository. You’ll see a new file added to your local filesystem with your repository’s name. If you open this file, you’ll see it contains the files in your GitHub repository. These are copied versions of your repository’s files that you can edit and then push back to your repository.
11. Create a new file in your new repository.
Let’s end by creating a new file in your cloned repository, then pushing it to GitHub. In your local clone, create a new text file called hello.txt. In it, paste the text Hello, world! and save the file.
12. Prepare to push your files.
In the terminal, navigate to inside your cloned repository. Then, type git add . and press Enter. This prepares all files in your cloned repository to be pushed.
13. Commit your changes to the changelog.
In the terminal, type git commit -m “added hello.txt” and press Enter. This commits your changes to the changelog. The text in quotes is a comment briefly describing the purpose of the commit.
14. Push your cloned repository files.
Type git push origin main in the terminal and press Enter.
15. Check for your new file.
Back in your GitHub repository, you’ll see your new file added. Now you’re ready to get to work and begin collaborating on your new project.
GitHub: The Platform Behind the Software
When we think of technological innovations, it’s sometimes easy to attribute everything to one person — think Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Of course, the reality is that software comes from minds working together. It advances thanks to the millions of professional and amateur developers working together to develop new things in new ways.
That’s the beauty of GitHub. It lowers the barrier of entry for collaboration, so anyone can pitch in their ideas toward projects of their choice, or start a project of their own.
It’s difficult to imagine the world of open-source software before GitHub. Now, it’s ready for anyone to explore, including you.