GitHub for Newbies.

What is Github ?

GitHub is a web-based hosting service for software development projects that use the Git revision control system. (Source : Wikipedia)

What is Git ?

Git is version control software, which means it manages changes to a project without overwriting any part of that project.

Why use Git ?

Say you and a coworker are both updating pages on the same website. You make your changes, save them, and upload them back to the website. So far, so good. The problem comes when your coworker is working on the same page as you at the same time. One of you is about to have your work overwritten and erased.

A version control application like Git keeps that from happening. You and your coworker can each upload your revisions to the same page, and Git will save two copies. Later, you can merge your changes together without losing any work along the way. You can even revert to an earlier version at any time, because Git keeps a “snapshot” of every change ever made.

Words people use when they talk about Git

Command Line: The computer program we use to input Git commands.

Repository: A directory or storage space where your projects can live. Sometimes GitHub users shorten this to “repo.” It can be local to a folder on your computer, or it can be a storage space on GitHub or another online host. You can keep code files, text files, image files, you name it, inside a repository.

Version Control: Basically, the purpose Git was designed to serve. When you have a Microsoft Word file, you either overwrite every saved file with a new save, or you save multiple versions. With Git, you don’t have to. It keeps “snapshots” of every point in time in the project’s history, so you can never lose or overwrite it.

Commit: This is the command that gives Git its power. When you commit, you are taking a “snapshot” of your repository at that point in time, giving you a checkpoint to which you can reevaluate or restore your project to any previous state.

Branch: How do multiple people work on a project at the same time without Git getting them confused? Usually, they “branch off” of the main project with their own versions full of changes they themselves have made. After they’re done, it’s time to “merge” that branch back with the “master,” the main directory of the project.

Git Specific commands

git init: Initializes a new Git repository. Until you run this command inside a repository or directory, it’s just a regular folder. Only after you input this does it accept further Git commands.

git config: Short for “configure”, this is most useful when you’re setting up Git for the first time.

git help: Forgot a command? Type this into the command line to bring up the 21 most common git commands. You can also be more specific and type “git help init” or another term to figure out how to use and configure a specific git command.

git status: Check the status of your repository. See which files are inside it, which changes still need to be committed, and which branch of the repository you’re currently working on.

git add: This does not add new files to your repository. Instead, it brings new files to Git’s attention. After you add files, they’re included in Git’s “snapshots” of the repository.

git commit: Git’s most important command. After you make any sort of change, you input this in order to take a “snapshot” of the repository. Usually it goes git commit -m “Message here.” The -m indicates that the following section of the command should be read as a message.

git branch: Working with multiple collaborators and want to make changes on your own? This command will let you build a new branch, or timeline of commits, of changes and file additions that are completely your own. Your title goes after the command. If you wanted a new branch called “cats,” you’d type git branch cats.

git checkout: Literally allows you to “check out” a repository that you are not currently inside. This is a navigational command that lets you move to the repository you want to check. You can use this command as git checkout master to look at the master branch, or git checkout cats to look at another branch.

git merge: When you’re done working on a branch, you can merge your changes back to the master branch, which is visible to all collaborators. git merge cats would take all the changes you made to the “cats” branch and add them to the master.

git push: If you’re working on your local computer, and want your commits to be visible online on GitHub as well, you “push” the changes up to GitHub with this command.

git pull: If you’re working on your local computer and want the most up-to-date version of your repository to work with, you “pull” the changes down from GitHub with this command.

For creating your own online repository visit .


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