How to Learn GitHub
GitHub is one of those things that you hear about for months or years without ever knowing what it means. We catch the name “GitHub” all the time on television, in web articles (like this one!), and via overheard bits of chat we catch while in line for coffee.
Coders seem to adore it (if you want to see a programmer almost explode with excitement, ask their opinion on GitHub), so it must be pretty useful. But what is GitHub used for? It’s a good idea to learn more about what GitHub is and what it does if only to stop feeling so uninformed when people bring it up.
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That’s where this guide comes in. We’ve put together a primer on GitHub and why it’s such a fantastic collaborative and creative tool. With our help, you’ll soon be GitHubbing (I so wish that were a word) with the best of them. You don’t have to be a coder to find GitHub to be immensely useful, either.
Anyone who wants to manage a project and invite collaboration will be blown away by what GitHub can do for them. GitHub is an excellent addition to your technological toolkit, so the more you know about it, the more effective you’ll be.
What is “Git”?
Git is a version control system. It is used by developers to track changes between versions of a project. Using GitHub, developers can derive insights into who made what changes to a project at a given point in time.
A version control system is a way to keep track of project versions. Large projects require input from multiple developers, and all of them are beavering away on it, writing changes to the code.
Every time the code gets updated, every other coder needs to know what’s changed and how it might affect the project on which they’re working. Version control systems allow developers to manage projects and update the version with each revision, which enables all coders to stay on top of the latest software iteration.
What is GitHub?
GitHub is an online Git repository hosting service. Developers use GitHub to share their code with other developers using the Git protocol. GitHub is also used to track changes to software projects. Both hobbyist developers and companies use GitHub for Git version control.
GitHub is one of many online Git hosting services, alongside tools like GitLab and BitBucket. GitHub is popular because it makes sharing code really easy. GitHub comes with a seamless user interface that lets you see how your project has changed over time and make changes to your code.
What is GitHub Used For?
GitHub is used by open-source developers, hobbiests, and companies as a place to store and share their code. Let’s take a minute to talk about the reasons why these groups use GitHub.
- Code sharing. GitHub makes it easy to share code with other developers. GitHub combines the Git protocol with an easy-to-use web interface. This lets developers easily see all the files in a project and navigate around those files.
- Version control. GitHub is a Git hosting service. This means that it supports advanced version control features. GitHub lets you track changes to a project and see who made what changes and when.
- Open source project hosting. GitHub is popular among open source enthusiasts. This is because GitHub offers additional features like pull requests that help people collaborate on projects.
- Display a portfolio. Many hobbiest developers host their code on GitHub so they can demonstrate their skills to the world. Developers often include a link to their GitHub in job applications to show what they have accomplished in their career.
These are only four of the many reasons people use GitHub.
GitHub is an excellent skill to have. If you plan to pursue a career as a developer, there is a high chance that you’ll have to use GitHub at some point. You may use GitHub to contribute to an open-source project. Your future employer may use GitHub to host their code.
How Long Does it Take to Learn GitHub?
It takes a few hours to get familiar with the basics of GitHub. This involves setting up your profile and creating a repository. It will take you a few days to learn how to write and send a pull request and use many of the more advanced GitHub features.
You can expect to be learning how to use GitHub weeks and months after you first sign up. The GitHub team is always adding new features to their platform to make it easier to work on projects. You’ll find many features in “beta” and many others that have just been launched.
Because GitHub is based on Git, you’ll find many crossovers between what you know about Git. This means that you may be able to extend some of your knowledge from Git as you start using GitHub.
But, this also means that you’ve got a lot to learn if you want to become a GitHub master. Git is an expansive tool and even professional software developers spend time learning how to use Git years into their careers.
How to Learn GitHub: Step-by-Step
There are a few steps you should follow to learn GitHub. Let’s take a moment to talk about how you should get started.
- Sign up to GitHub. Before you can learn to use GitHub, you’ve got to create an account.
- Set up your profile. Once you have created an account, take a moment to look at your profile. Fill in details such as your bio and the company for which you work. This will help you make a more professional profile.
- Create a new repository. Next, you should create a repository. You should first create a repository from scratch so you can see how GitHub is used with new projects.
- Create a commit. Download the repository you create and make a change to a file in the repository. Then, when you are ready, commit that change. You’ll see your change shows up on GitHub.
- Learn about pull requests and issues. Pull requests and issues are essential features used to collaborate on software projects. Learn what pull requests and issues are and how to create them.
- Advance your Git knowledge. GitHub is based on Git. If you want to use more advanced GitHub features, you’ll need to build a solid understanding of how Git works.
Once you’ve learned the basics, you should try to collaborate on a project with other people. This will help you practice your knowledge of pull requests and issues and learn how Git is used in environments where more than one person is involved with a project.
The Best GitHub Courses and Trainings
There are plenty of courses that will help you learn Git. But, you may be wondering which ones are worth your time. Below we’ve compiled a list of the best GitHub courses and training programs online.
Online GitHub Courses
GitHub Ultimate: Master Git and GitHub
- Provider: Udemy
- Cost: $60.00
- Audience: Beginner
This Udemy course covers the basics of using GitHub and the Git version control system. You’ll learn how to create and manage repositories and view how a repository has changed using Git.
This course comes with over six hours of on-demand video and tutorials that you can follow at home.
Introduction to Git and GitHub
- Provider: Coursera
- Cost: Free
- Audience: Beginner
Introduction to Git and GitHub will guide you through using the GitHub web interface and Git command line. This course takes approximately 18 hours to complete. You’ll start by installing Git and then build up experience using GitHub.
GitHub Quick Tips
- Provider: Lynda
- Cost: Lynda membership ($25 / month)
- Audience: Intermediate
This online course is excellent for anyone who knows a bit about GitHub and wants to learn more. In this course, you’ll learn how to optimize your profile, master the search interface, create a GitHub wiki, and more.
Online GitHub Books
Pro Git by Scott Chacon and Ben Straub
Pro Git is a complete guide to using the Git command line interface. This book starts with an introduction to Git and a guide on how to install Git. Then, you’ll walk through creating a repository, viewing the commit history, and other beginner features.
This book does not focus explicitly on GitHub. But, this book will help you learn the jargon you need to know to successfully work your way around the GitHub web interface.
Version Control with Git by Jon Loeliger and Matthew McCullough
Version Control with Git is a beginner’s guide to using Git. In this book, you’ll learn how to use Git for tracking code, managing revisions, and hosting collaborative projects.
This book makes reference to real-world development situations so you can understand how Git is applied in actual software projects.
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Git Pocket Guide: A Working Introduction by Richard E. Silverman
This book is an excellent reference guide for the Git command line. You’ll learn how to set up a Git repository, examine a project, and use branches. In addition, this book will teach you about accessing remote repositories and changing a repository’s commit history.
Online GitHub Resources
Git Guide is an online tutorial for complete beginners to Git. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create repositories, commit files, and navigate your way around a repository.
This guide comes with really simple descriptions of commands so you’ll never be overwhelmed with too much information too soon.
First Day on GitHub
First Day on GitHub is the most basic tutorial in GitHub’s series on how to use GitHub. This tutorial will guide you through what GItHub is and how you can get started. You’ll find this tutorial useful if you have no prior knowledge of using Git.
Git Learning Lab
GitHub has an entire website devoted to Git and GitHub. On this site, you’ll find dozens of walkthroughs. These walkthroughs cover topics like GitHub actions, using Markdown, and uploading a project to GitHub.
Should You Study GitHub?
You don’t need to be a code cowboy or cowgirl to reap GitHub rewards. The aspects that make GitHub so appealing to software developers, such as its open-source nature and robust social media environment, also serve creators of all stripes.
If you have a project that you need to manage, whether it’s writing a new program or developing a book-length poem, you’ll find GitHub to be a valuable assistant, collaboration tool, and organizer.
We hope that this guide has helped you understand GitHub a bit better. GitHub is a fantastic tool for creators of all sorts, so it’s vital to learn about it and take advantage of all it has to offer. Using GitHub will make you a more efficient and productive person, so what are you waiting for? Git to it! (Sorry.)
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