Using Git on GitHub

GitHub is a remarkably popular platform for sharing and collaborating on code. At it’s core, GitHub acts as a Git server that lets you easily create upstream, bare repos. Recall that bare repos are repos that let you and your collaborators push to and pull from.

GitHub as a service has added a number of features on top of Git that enable quick and easy collaboration (forking and pull requests) as well as a conventional model for how to use the core feature of Git to propose and discuss changes.

Forking a Repo

The first step to getting started collaborating on a project that’s hosted on GitHub is to fork it. Forking a repo can be thought of cloning a repo, but it clones it from GitHub to GitHub instead of from GitHub to your laptop.

For the curious, forking is essentially the same as running

git clone --bare

GitHub has a really nice writeup on how to fork a repo.

Using the GitHub Flow

Once you’ve forked a project’s repository, the next step is to make a branch for adding your feature. We’ve discussed branches a little bit before. For those interested in really extending their knowledge of how Git works though, you should definitely check out Learn Git Branching.

GitHub markets this model as “the GitHub Flow”. There’s a nice visualization of how this works online.

Making a Pull Request

The step to actually get people discussing or accepting your changes into a repo on GitHub is to make a pull request. This works by sending something of a notification that you’ve pushed code to your fork that you’d like the upstream repo to take a look at.

As you might expect, GitHub has a nice tutorial for how to make a Pull Request as well.

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