Getting started using GitHub can be hard. Even working at GitHub I’m still learning how to use it and finding out about new features. If you’re new to programming it might seem like one more thing to learn. So what’s the benefit? Well, GitHub is widely known as the best place on the internet to share and collaborate on code. There are millions of projects in every programming language that are open source – meaning you can view and reuse the code – which can help you become a better developer, faster. Search to find a project that interests you, copy it down to your local computer, and start hacking.
Besides being widely used for open source software, GitHub is how developers collaborate at work. Knowing how to submit a pull request – which is a request to change the code – is an essential skill to be able to contribute to a project. In the GitHub Basics course, Kyle Daigle – a software engineer at GitHub – and I cover using pull requests and show how to troubleshoot when encountering a merge conflict – which happens sometimes when two people change the same file.
When I first started my coding journey I was employed as an accountant where, alongside resources like Treehouse, I used GitHub to learn to code. When I had an idea for a website or app, I searched on GitHub and almost always found that someone else had made something similar. From there I would copy and edit it to fit my idea.
I began to use GitHub like some people use Facebook and Twitter. I started following developers and would star or watch favorite projects. Eventually, I built up the courage to submit a pull request on an app I used regularly. It was a very small change – I noticed that it was missing a favicon, so I copied the project (sometimes known as forking), added a favicon, and opened the pull request to ask for the change to be incorporated into the app. To my delight, the project maintainer agreed to the change and merged the pull request. From there, I continued to hack on side projects and push up code to GitHub. Last year I switched teams to become a data analyst on an engineering team where I use GitHub and pull requests to collaborate with my team members every day.
Whether you’re using Treehouse to learn to code, as a hobby or looking to make a career change, GitHub can be a great resource to view other developer’s projects, start a code portfolio, and even contribute back. Sharing your coding projects can help others learn and learning to use pull requests is a way to contribute back to the open-source software community.
Make the pull request you want to see in the world. I can’t wait to see what you build!
To get started with GitHub, check out Kyle and Alyson’s course: GitHub Basics.
Alyson is a former accountant who used GitHub to learn to code and now works as a Data Analyst. She’s also a guest teacher at Treehouse. You can find her on GitHub as @alysonla and on Twitter as @realalysonla.