What is Github? and How to Use it?

Being a developer requires you to use many tools. Writing code is a complex task, and using the right tools can make it significantly easier. If you’ve been reading about coding and programming for a while, you must have heard of Github. It’s one of the must-haves for any programmer. 

Github allows teams to collaborate on projects and offers a platform where developers from all over the globe can work. It is the perfect place for modern developers. In the following points, you’ll learn what Github is, how to use Github, and how you can become an expert programmer who is well-acquainted with Github and other related tools.

What is Github?

Github is a dynamic platform that allows developers to store their code and collaborate on projects. It is a hosting platform where you can store your code in their server in the form of folders and files called repositories. You can also track your code there seamlessly and, if you want, share your code with others

Github is an open-source version control platform. It allows programmers to work on projects together and share their code quickly whenever necessary. Managing collaboration coding projects on Github is also significantly easy as it shows the source of the collection of all the related files and spreads it across them

Once you make any modifications to the program, you can incorporate the changes to the existing product much more easily when you’re using Github. Due to its support for collaboration and version control, it has become the premier platform for keeping open-source projects

It is a cloud-based solution and allows you to host Git repositories. To properly understand Github, it would be best to understand version control and Git.

What is Version Control?

Version control allows you to track and manage all the changes made to a software project’s code. It’s a crucial aspect of any software project – as a project becomes bigger, it becomes essential to have version control.

Consider the case of Amazon. Amazon is a massive project. If a developer wanted to make changes to a specific aspect of Amazon’s source code, it wouldn’t be good to edit the source code directly. First, it would affect the user experience and expose the entire platform to potential bugs and troubleshooting attempts

Instead of editing the official source code, the developer can utilize version control. Version control allows you to branch and merges the code, ensuring that the source code doesn’t suffer from the troubles we just discussed above

Branching refers to when you duplicate a section of source code (it’s called a repository). You can modify the repository however you want, as it wouldn’t affect the original code. Once you have made the necessary changes, you can merge the section you worked on with the official source code and make it official

Every modification is tracked to make sure that it can be reverted if required. Github is the largest version control platform available

What is Git?

Git is a software solution that allows you to track changes in any set of files. It entered the industry in 2005 and is a product of Linus Torvalds. It is an open-source distributed version control system. Linus Torvalds is also the creator of the popular operating system, kernel (Linux

Its distributed nature means that every developer can have the entire codebase and history. This simplifies the tasks of branching and merging the code. More than 87% of developers use this technology. However, it’s quite an advanced solution and requires some effort to get used to it

Github solves this problem by providing you with an easy-to-use interface. Even if you don’t have a lot of coding experience, you can start using Github right away. Some people even use Github to work on non-tech projects as well such as writing books

Github is a for-profit company, and it makes its revenue by offering commercial plans to organizations and hosting private code repositories

Why use Github?

Github offers many advantages that have cemented its position as a must-have tool for any developer or programmer. Its super-simple interface allows professionals with varying experience levels and expertise to collaborate on projects. Moreover, it facilitates collaboration and version control on large projects. It hosts numerous open-source projects in different sectors, including research, marketing, healthcare, etc. 

On top of all this, Github is also an industry staple. Most employers use Github in their organization to handle version control and collaborate on projects. Hence, it would be great to have Github listed on your resume if you want to pursue a tech career. Knowing how to use Github can make it quite easy to kickstart your tech career. 

How to use Github?

To start using Github, you should start with the basics. Once you are familiar with the layout and how the platform works, it would be much easier to start using Github. Here’s how to use Github: 

Step #1: Joining Github

You’ll need a Github account to start using this platform. The best part is that it’s free to sign up on Github and use the software. A free Github gives you access to numerous private and public repositories. It also offers project management and bug tracking features. The only drawback of having a free account on Github is it limits the number of collaborators you can have on a private repository. Currently, the limit is three. You can’t have more than three collaborators on a private repository. However, as a beginner who’s learning the ropes, having a free account is the perfect way to start. 

Step #2: Installing Git

After you have created an account on Github, you’ll have to install Git. It’s the technology that tracks changes and makes it easier to coordinate tasks and collaborate. You can use Git to work with other professionals on sophisticated development projects. It’s an intricate solution, and you should start using it after you’ve become a little familiar with Github. You can install Git here.

Step #3: Creating a Repository

You must have a repository to do anything on Github. A repository refers to a project, and having a repository will store everything related to a particular project, including datasets, images, files, videos, etc. It’s best to add a README file when creating a repository.

You can click the “new repository” button to make your repository. After that, you’ll be prompted to name the repository and add a description.

Step #4: Creating a Branch

Your project would have multiple versions during collaboration. Branching would allow you to edit the different versions of your project and make the necessary changes without affecting the original code. Your repository would have an automatic branch called master.

Github allows you to make multiple branches to simplify working, and you can commit the changes to the master branch when required. The first branch is a copy of the master branch. You can start a new branch in your repository by clicking the dropdown “branch: master” and enter the desired name. Branching is an excellent way to add new features or fix bugs in your code.

Step #5: Creating and Committing Changes

If you want to make any changes to a branch in Github, follow these steps:

  • Head to the code view of the branch
  • Select the file you want to change
  • Click on the pencil icon 
  • Make the required changes
  • Describe the changes in the commit messages
  • Select the “commit changes” button

Every change you save is a commit, and every commit has its dedicated commit message to explain why the change was made. 

Step #6: Opening and Merging a Pull Request

You will need to open a pull request whenever you want to merge a branch into another person’s branch. You can make the pull request when you make a commit. It’s best to mention the person whose feedback you need by using the “@” option when opening a pull request.

Follow these steps to open a pull request: 

  • Head to the “pull request” tab.
  • Click on the “new pull request” button.
  • Find your newly created branch in “example comparisons.”
  • Compare the branch with the master.
  • Select the “Create pull request” button.
  • Give your pull request the required title and description.
  • Select the “Create pull request” button to complete the process.

As a beginner, you wouldn’t need to merge pull requests, but having the know-how of performing this task will certainly help. Just click the “merge pull request” button and select “confirm merge”. After that, you’ll have to delete the merged branch once you’ve added it to the master. 


We hope you found the above guide on Github useful. 

If you want to pursue a tech career and become an expert in Github and related technologies, it would be best to join a course in the subject. We recommend joining the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore’s Executive PG Program in Software Development

IIIT-B offers this program in partnership with upGrad. It’s an online program that lasts for 13 months. upGrad has over 40,000 learners in more than 85 countries. Joining the Executive PG Program in Software Development will allow you to network globally while learning the required skills.

What is Github?

Github is open-source, cloud-based version control and collaboration platform. It allows teams to work seamlessly on large projects without disturbing the official source code.

Is Github dangerous?

No, Github is a completely safe platform. However, it’s vital that you follow best safety practices while sharing your projects there to ensure you don’t reveal any sensitive information.

Who uses Github?

Github is used by programmers, software developers, engineers, and many other tech professionals who work on projects and require collaboration. Lately, it has become popular in other industries as a collaboration and version control tool as well.

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