Github. A (hopefully) beginners guide.

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    Andy
    Keymaster

    As someone with a keen interest in technology and its intersection with intelligence I often find myself tumbling down YouTube rabbit holes, many of which end up at Github.

    But what exactly is Github, why do so many techies use it to announce, discus and share their amazing work? I’m going to attempt to provide answers to these questions and learn teach myself along the way.

    Below is a basic introduction and tutorial on how to get started but it is basic. The general advice seems to be ‘Ask for help’ from the Github community or hopefully add some questions to this thread and another, more knowledgable, member will jump in and offer advice.

    Getting Started with GitHub

    GitHub is a hugely popular platform used by millions of developers and open-source enthusiasts to host and collaborate on code repositories. While it can seem intimidating at first, GitHub has a relatively easy learning curve once you get the basics down.

    Creating a GitHub Account

    1. Go to github.com and click on the “Sign up” button in the top right.
    2. You can sign up with your email or using an existing Google or Microsoft account.
    3. Follow the steps to create a username and password for your new GitHub account.

    Navigating GitHub

    When you first login, you’ll land on your personal GitHub dashboard/news feed tailored to your activity. But let’s focus on finding and installing repos (repositories) containing software projects:

    1. Click the “Search GitHub” field at the top to search for a specific project name or browse topics/categories.
    2. When you find an interesting repo, click on it to go to the repo’s main page which shows the files/folders.
    3. Most quality repos will have documentation to explain the project and installation instructions.

    Downloading Repos

    There are two main ways to download repos from GitHub – cloning via Git or downloading a ZIP archive.

    Cloning with Git (Recommended for Developers)

    1. Install Git on your machine from https://git-scm.com/downloads
    2. Open a terminal/command prompt and navigate to the folder where you want the repo files.
    3. Copy the repo URL from the green “Code” button on GitHub.
    4. Run: git clone [repo url]
    5. This downloads the repo as a subfolder you can work with locally.

    Downloading as ZIP

    1. On the repo’s main page, click the green “Code” button.
    2. Select “Download ZIP” in the small modal window.
    3. Once downloaded, extract/unzip the folder to access the repo files.

    Installing Tools from Repos

    Many GitHub repos contain code projects, but some are also distribution channels for pre-built apps/tools. Installation steps vary per project:

    Windows Apps

    1. Download the repo .zip or .exe installer file(s)
    2. Run the installer(s) just like any other Windows program setup

    Mac/Linux Apps

    1. Open a terminal window on your machine
    2. Follow the repo’s instructions which usually involve running commands to download/install dependencies and executables

    Command Line Tools

    1. These are installed by running commands in a terminal as specified in the repo instructions
    2. You may need to add them to your system’s PATH to run them globally

    GitHub is also your friend for scripting/programming projects as you can copy code snippets or full files right from repos into your own scripts and development projects.

    Getting More Advanced

    As you become more experienced with GitHub, you can:

    • Fork repos to create your own copy
    • Pull latest changes from origins repos
    • Create pull requests to submit code contributions
    • Use the desktop GitHub app for a GUI
    • Learn to use Git source control from the command line

    But for just getting started downloading tools and browsing projects, simply cloning/downloading repos is a great first step. The GitHub community is immensely helpful too – don’t be afraid to read documentation and ask questions!

     

    Andy

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