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Last updated on 4/25/22

Play around with Github on your own account

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In this chapter, we will explore a popular web application, GitHub, and create your first code repository!  

Get familiar with GitHub’s interface

First go to the the GitHub website. 

It should look like this:

The Github Website
The GitHub website

Already, there are a lot of links that will give you a bigger picture of all the tools GitHub has to offer!  On the right side, you will see a sign-up form. We'll go through that in a bit, as well as some of the tools; first, let’s take a look at how the repositories look!

If you click in the Search GitHub text box next to Sign in,  you can find a specific project by name: 

Search Github
Search GitHub

Let's look at Kubernetes.  Type it in that box and hit enter. Kubernetes is a great example because it is an active project with thousands of repositories, contributors, and languages!

The Kubernetes projects
The Kubernetes projects

You can click in any of those repositories and see the source code!  Let's take a look at openshift/origin.

The Openshift Code Repository
The openshift code repository

I know it looks like a lot of new information! We'll go in to the nuts and bolts later, but for now, let's take a look at what all this means:

Project interface
Project interface

In the upper-left corner, you will have the name of the repository.  Here, it's openshift/origin. Underneath that, you will see these key tabs: 

  • Code - your source code.

  • Issues - issues for the community to solve.

  • Pull requests - suggestions from contributors.

Project interface: midsection
Project interface: midsection

Now when you get to the middle line, you can see how active the project is! The number of commits is the number of new versions that have been saved. The branches are where some alternate versions are archived.  In the screenshot above, you will see 338 contributors are an active part of the development!

The green button that says Clone or download is the main link for the Git repository ready to download!  Here, any repository can be cloned (copied) or linked!

 What if I don't know what repository to look up?

Let’s say you want to look at a project written in another coding language, like Python. At the top banner, go to the drop-down under Explore, and click Explore GitHub.

Find a project!
Find a project!

You can look in Topics for a language or platform that interests you. Choose one, and you will see what that repository looks like on GitHub!  See if you'd like to contribute your own issue fixes and features to that repository and become a part of the open source community!

Setting up an account

Let's go back to the main page.

Go ahead and sign up for a GitHub account.

Sign up here
Sign up here

Once you fill out the form, you can choose a subscription.  For the purposes of this class, the free account will suffice.  It will allow you to have public and private repositories on GitHub so you won’t miss out on anything! 

Plus, it's all you need to contribute to open source projects and create your own!


Once that is complete, verify your email, and your account should be all set!

Create your first repository

Now let’s create your first repository!

Start a project!
Start a project!

Click on the Create new repository or the Start a project button. Now you will see a form to name your repository:

Create your repository!
Create your repository

To get started, all you have to do is:

  1. Name your repository.

  2. Choose whether you'd want it public or private.  A public repository is open for anyone to see and contribute to.

  3. Start with a README file for your project description.

That's it! Now, just click the Create repository button on the bottom. Congrats! You’ve created your first repository! 💫 If you click on the README.md file, you will see that it contains the title you gave your repo (I called mine "hello").  

Edit your repository

Click on the Edit button on the right side of the document.

Click on the pencil on the right corner to Edit
Edit button

Now add a description of your first repo. Once you're done, you'll see a little box at the bottom of the page called Commit changes.  This is where you log and describe what changes you've made to your repository.  You can title it something like: wrote description.  Just type it in and click the Commit changes button on the button. 

After you're done with your description, click Commit changes to save

You’ve just made your first change on your repository using Git’s version control system! When you clicked the Commit changes button, you created a new version!  If you want to go back to the one before you made that change to the README.md, click on the History button on the right corner.

History button to look at your earlier commits!
Look at your earlier commits with the History button! 

Now let's look at the two commits in history.  The first one is when you created the repository and the second one is the commit you just made.  Notice the message with the second commit, wrote description. This helps you identify your latest commit!

Commit history for your new repository!
Commit history for your new repository!

In the next chapter, you'll set up Git and learn how to contribute to your first open source repository!

Let’s recap!

  • To create a free account on GitHub, just follow the instructions on the page. 

  • GitHub’s repositories each list their name, main files, and folders as well as the clone URL. They also have tabs for code, issues, and pull requests.

  • README files describe code projects and significant changes. 

  • You can edit your repository, commit changes, and then track those changes within the history tab! 

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement