What is GitHub?

jeff/ May 26, 2020

GitHub has become a key tool in not only my web development process but also in my life and work.

You definitely don’t need GitHub in order to create web sites, but it can really help you stay organized and productive.

GitHub, as the name suggests, is based on what was once a little-known set of software for synchronizing repositories of software code. Git, started in 2005, is an open source software system for version control of distributed code repositories. (I’ll leave explaining the details of git to another time.)

GitHub is a service layer built on top of git. GitHub was started in 2008 as a small startup. The popularity grew over time, and GitHub now has over 40 million users. In 2018 Microsoft purchased GitHub for $7.5 billion.

GitHub is not the only service of its type. There’s also GitLab, Bitbucket and a few others. I prefer GitHub, personally. I like its interface and additional features. (I’m not interested in debating the pros and cons of GitHub over another system.)

One of the aspects of GitHub I like best are its project management features, particularly issue tracking. Every repository on GitHub comes with a built-in issue tracking system, project management board, and even a wiki. These tools are very useful in any team-based project. But they are also really useful when just working in solitude on your own project.

You can even create a repository without any code and still use the project management tools. Plus, everyone now has the option to make their repositories public or private.

Another tool of GitHub that I emphasize in a course on learning to program is the ability for simple web publishing through GitHub. It’s incredibly easy to setup a website and start publishing your own HTML and CSS code.