What is GitHub and Why Do I Need an Account?

What is GitHub, anyway? And why is it so important for my software developer career?

If you’re in the software developer community you’ve definitely heard of GitHub, but you might not even know what it is.

This blog will introduce you to the wonderful world of GitHub and let you know why you need to make an account ASAP.

If you haven’t had any formal software developer training but want to get some experience before you make your GitHub account, check out our free Software Development Training Course.

What is GitHub?

The Git in GitHub

Let’s start with the first part of the word: Git.

Git is an open-source version control system – for all us non-techy people out here – it is a programme that records all the changes that are made to it. This means that you can go back to previous versions of something you’ve made, take a look around, and make changes over again if you need to.

Version control systems are usually used for web development, like if you’re doing some software engineering on a computer programme or website. It’s a useful thing to use because you can recall earlier versions of something – so if your code suddenly breaks and you have no idea why, you can fix it instantly.

So, Git is a system that lots of devs use to track changes they make to code. That’s all well and good, but why do you need a GitHub account?

The Hub in GitHub

The hub is really where it’s at – developers can save their code into the hub and share it out to the community.

It’s this community aspect that really makes GitHub special.

Code gets saved to the repository (or repo) where it can be accessed by anyone that wants to nose around. You can then mess with it, make changes and sometimes see those changes come into effect. But how can this happen without trolls coming in and messing up everyone’s programmes?

The Fork

If you find a project on GitHub that you want to contribute to, you can fork it. You create a new version of the project with your own additions and then release your new version for the community to look at.

This is the reason why GitHub is quite amazing – you can collaborate with anyone, from anywhere, to create something really cool.

The Pull

So, you’ve forked a project, or repo, and think you’ve done a great job. In fact, you want some recognition for your unstoppable genius. Well here’s how you get it.

You can create a pull request to ask the original project developers to take a gander at your work.

GitHub will then open a channel of communication with them, so you can fight your case and maybe get the recognition you deserve. The devs can then choose to accept your revisions and add them to the original project, or leave your work as a fork.

If your changes are accepted, your name gets added to the list of contributors and the project gets added to your profile – but more on that later.

The Network

The community aspect of GitHub is so important.

It’s easy, as a dev, to sit at a computer screen all day talking to no one. But with GitHub, you kind of have to.

You join a community of like-minded and skilled people with the opportunity to create something really cool. This collaboration aspect is so important to employers, as we’ve said before.

The Profile

Now this is what makes GitHub an essential.

We’ve done a whole blog post about how to create a stunning tech portfolio, but you can sometimes get around that by just having a GitHub account.

As long as you’ve got lots of work on there, your account will speak for itself. So, get involved! Our employers love to look at your portfolios, so make yours a good one.

To really impress, have a both a portfolio and a GitHub account. This will really show employers that you’ve got loads of experience.

Click here to make your GitHub account!

Once you’ve made your profile pop, send us a link over our DigitalGrads messaging service. We would love to add it to your profile for all of our employers to see!