What is GitHub and How To Use It

GitHub is a code-sharing and hosting platform that helps developers with version control and collaboration. As a programming resource, it has become very popular over the years. By January 2020, GitHub claimed to have over 100 million repositories and over 40 million users, making it the largest source code hosting platform.

What is GitHub?

One thing you should be clear about is that Git and GitHub are not the same. Git is an open-source version control tool that was created by developers who worked on Linux. It is used primarily to track changes in computer files and can handle projects of any size, making it a highly popular utility for developers.

GitHub on the other hand was founded in 2008 and is the company that makes the tools that integrate with Git. It is a global repository hosting service that gives very wide reach and exposure to any code or projected added to it. GitHub enables team members working on a project to collaborate from any remote location and also allows access to previous versions of the same project from any specified time.

Features and Benefits of GitHub:

1. Easy Project Management:

GitHub works as a single platform that brings together project managers and developers to coordinate and collaborate. Through version control and easy tracking and updating of projects, GitHub greatly helps improve workflow visibility for an organisation.

2. Higher Package Security:

Developers and project managers can publish packages privately, to their team, or to the entire global community. These packages can be used or reused easily by downloading them back from GitHub. This means your package is secure and can only be accessed or seen by those you want to grant access to.

3. Effective Team Management:

Some argue that it is easier to use a cloud-based platform while working remotely. However, the problem there is that if more than one user is making changes within the same file or code, a cloud platform will save the changes of the first user, and everyone else has to take that change as the starting point. GitHub documents all the changes and helps avoid chaos. This helps the entire team to stay aware of every step and change in the process, which makes for greater transparency and higher visibility while working.

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4. Better Code Writing:

Pull requests help enterprises to review, develop and propose new code. Team members working on the project can easily communicate and discuss proposals before modifying the source code. Additionally, the exposure to code written by developers around the world and opportunities to collaborate with them helps enterprises to improve and upgrade their style of working and better their coding skills.

5. Higher Code Safety:

GitHub has multiple tools that help identify vulnerabilities within and to the code that other platforms miss out on. Developers and project managers on the platform work together to ensure security through the software supply chain from start to finish.

6. Easier Code Hosting:

GitHub is a platform that brings all developers, code and documentation in one place. Millions of repositories exist on GitHub and each has its own set of tools that help developers host and release their code.

How to Create a GitHub Repository:

A repository, also called repo for short, is a virtual storage place for your project. It contains folders, files, images, spreadsheets, videos and data sets - anything that your project requires. Often users localise these data repositories to their systems, but once you are ready to upload the data, you should make a GitHub repository.

It is highly recommended that you include a README - a file that contains all the information about your project - within your GitHub repository. To create a repository,

  1. Visit https://github.com. Fill in your details and sign up for GitHub.
  2. In the top right corner, you will see a ‘+’. Click it and select New Repository.
  3. Choose a name for your repository and add a short description. Also, make sure to adjust the privacy settings as you see fit.
  4. Select Initialise this repository with a README
  5. Finally, click Create Repository.

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The Competition:

You may have heard of many of GitHub’s competitors. These are alternatives that exist today, which include

  1. Microsoft Team Foundation Server
  2. Phabricator
  3. Bitbucket
  4. GitLab
  5. Assembla
  6. Beanstalk
  7. SourceForge
  8. Helix Core

Pull Requests:

When you open a Pull Request, it means you’re suggesting changes and are asking someone to look over them. These changes are shown in green and red. A Pull Request is what makes collaboration on GitHub so easy.

  1. Click the Pull Request tab. In the ‘Example Comparisons’ box, select your branch to compare with the original.
  2. Go over your changes, give your Pull Request a title and description, and then click Create Pull Request.


Git is a powerful tool in modern DevOps environments. GitHub is a highly relevant, extremely important platform for developers, and therefore offers plenty of career opportunities. Enroll in a GitHub training program today and give your career a new direction.

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Armin Vans
Avni Singh has a PhD in Machine Learning and is an Artificial Intelligence developer, researcher, practitioner, and educator as well as an Open Source Software developer, with over 7 years in the industry.



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