Every software developer has heard about Git and is probably active on GitHub. What are these, why are they important to software developers and what is the difference between Git and GitHub? Teams of software developers work on developing the same code and contribute to building it. When doing this, tracking version control is critical. Git is free, open-source software that helps developers to track changes and distributed version control. Git began in 2005 as an open-source project by Linus Torvalds, who is well known for creating the Linux operating system kernel.
GitHub is a popular web hosting platform that allows software developers to collaborate and work on projects together. If you are starting out, a good way to explore is to sign up for a Git course or a Git Tutorial. Or you can experiment with GitHub coding by joining projects initiated by other developers on specific coding skills such as GitHub Python or others.
Several enterprise scale projects are developed using GitHub, making it not only a way to track changes in code, but also a global community of software developers that have fun building projects together.
Why is Git and GitHub important
Version control is a crucial part of software development and coders need to be well-versed in it as they progress from basic projects to more complex ones in their careers. As it tracks code changes over time, it helps maintain meticulous records and allows coders who are collaborating to view the changes made by a specific reviewer and when these were made. While Git is the software that allows version control, GitHub is the platform that allows developers to network, collaborate, and store their projects on the cloud. GitHub has a hosting service that stores code projects, and allows teams from across the world, with various skillsets to build their code together, while of course keeping a close watch on the version control.
If you’ve been part of the software developer community, it’s highly likely that you’re familiar with the popularity of Git as a version control system for tracking and managing changes to code. Git can be accessed and used via a code repository hosting service. So, it is also very likely that you are among the millions of developers flocking to GitHub, the widely used hosting platform for Git repositories. GitHub’s competitors include GitLab, BitBucket, and self-hosting options for code collaboration and version control like Gogs or Gitea. And, if you’re just beginning your coding journey, you’ve reached the right place to find out more about these crucial tools that a developer needs to know.
GitHub has been around as a platform for a long time, becoming a place where developers can build, scale, and deliver software securely. Not only do software developers get to store, manage, and safeguard the code they develop, they also get to use the vast repository hosting service on GitHub to track changes as part of version control. GitHub serves as a web-based network of Git repositories, storing all code maintained on the cloud. Open-source projects can be hosted on this platform – public repositories are available to anybody, even without registration. However, if you want to develop code and upload it here, you need to be a registered user.
Developing code, together, cohesively
Most often developing code is an individual effort and can be limited in scope when it relies on the individual’s skills, expertise, and knowledge. Even when coders take the support of others within their known networks, the outcomes may be quite fragmented and not as expansive in scope as desirable.
At least 83 million developers, and 4 million organizations of which 90% comprise Fortune 100 companies are using GitHub already. Today, it’s home to over 200 million repositories. Through this thriving community, GitHub offers great networking opportunities while also making collaborative efforts, more convenient. The fact that GitHub’s repositories are open to all makes it an ideal platform for developers/coders to use every opportunity to collaborate. They can reach out to peers in the web professionals’ community. They can contribute to each other’s code, make alterations and enhancements to it in an organized, secure manner, across a global network. They can all be working on the same project, engaging in social coding, without interfering or writing over the work of other collaborators. The outcomes can, therefore, be well-coordinated, consistent, and harmonious.
GitHub coding will help you upskill continuously
It is a good investment for you to learn Git and GitHub, either by doing a Git course and experimenting with a GitHub Python project, for example, will give you a solid boost as you kickstart your career as a developer. GitHub is an excellent place to create a portfolio of your coding prowess and showcase it to prospective employers and clients.
As a coder, you can leverage GitHub in several ways. These include:
- Writing, editing code with changes tracked so you can revert to earlier versions whenever you want.
- Trying out all kinds of variations to your Python source code on GitHub before finalizing it.
- Maintaining a historical record of your various iterations of your files with the Commit command and providing transparency with others who view it.
- Creating copies of the GitHub repository for your personal use with the help of the Cloning feature. Alternatively, fetching code from a public repository without impacting the original project you got it from using the Forking feature.
- Actively exchanging feedback and reviews with other developers and collaborators.
GitHub versus Git – Difference between Git and GitHub
Microsoft's acquisition of GitHub has generated a lot of interest and questions about it. Especially as a beginner in software developer, it’s important for you to understand the similarity and difference between Git and GitHub. At the same time, it is important to understand that they complement each other and are equally necessary for DevOps integrations to be truly effective.
Both Git and GitHub are popular tools used by developers for source code management as well as for managing changes and sharing code in a convenient manner. Differences between Git and GitHub begin with what they provide in a functional sense. Git manages the source code history entirely, allowing you to undo changes, share code, and collaborate once you have Git installed locally in your computer.
GitHub cannot be used unless you have Git installed on your computer. Git supports all languages and file types including Java, Node.js, Python, HTML, or .NET. The objective behind GitHub was in fact, to ensure Git was used properly. Project-specific changes made by others, and you are visible on GitHub, but it doesn’t the facility to access your files on your personal system. You don’t need a centralized server or internet connection to use Git. In the case of GitHub, it is born in the cloud and therefore, internet is a must.
While Git is a distributed version control program (DVCS) for open-source software installed locally on the developer’s personal computer, GitHub is an online service enabled on a cloud-based platform built around Git – these resources can be accessed by developers who have Git installed. Therefore, GitHub’s offering includes the version control system along with other functionalities like project management, ticket management, identification, and monitoring of bugs. Here, developers can share their repositories, gain access to code uploaded by other developers in the public repositories and have backups as well.
Gaining proficiency in GitHub is a career advantage. It helps you continue to upskill.
You get plenty of opportunities to keep learn Git and GitHub; with the community around these platforms helping you to improve and prune your skills. Thanks to version control, you can also revert to earlier versions even if you’ve made some mistake in your coding and have the chance to improve on it.
GitHub is particularly handy because it allows you to make your code bug-free because of the tracking it enables. You can even create a separate branch where you can try various experimentations without affecting your original code and later, include the branch with your main project only if it meets the required criteria.
Plus, communication becomes easier with collaborators. It allows you to easily communicate with team members to ask questions or make comments and find best practices to guide your coding efforts.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when you’re starting off on a new project but will be able to look at others’ codes, choose what is readily available, and use those codes if they’re relevant and can be modified to your specifications.
Even if you prefer to operate solo, you still will get to participate in various projects and engage, hone your knowledge, and upskill by gaining access to what others are sharing in a much wider developer community.
Access our GitHub tutorial for beginners to gain the competitive edge as a budding software developer.