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Using Git effectively

git is a command-line tool for recording, sharing and collaborating on code.

GitHub is a Microsoft-owned company (and website) that makes it easy to use git, and adds extra collaboration and security tools on top. They also make GitHub Desktop, a convenient graphical user interface for git.

GitHub provide good guides and documentation about best practices. The hello-world walkthrough is essential reading for new users, and the GitHub flow slideshow summarises some best practice. If you prefer learning via video, there is also a GitHub Youtube Channel.

GitHub workflow🔗

The general workflow for making changes to your code is as follows:

  • Create a new branch. A branch is a way for you to record and publish your own changes without breaking things for other people who are using the same code. It is also a good way of collecting changes ("commits") into a meaningful unit that can be reviewed by others.
  • Edit/add/delete files in the repo on that branch, committing regularly with informative commit messages.
  • Push the changes to GitHub, so that others can view the branch.
  • Continue to commit and push changes on that branch until you believe it's ready to be merged back into the main codebase that everyone uses.
  • Submit a pull request (PR), requesting that the branch be reviewed by somebody else. A PR is simply a way of viewing, commenting on, and approving code to be merged, "pulled" into the main codebase.
  • Watch out for the automated tests passing or failing!

For a more generic overview, see GitHub's own guidance.