What is GitHub And How To Use It?

GitHub is a programming resource that has become increasingly popular. GitHub is used for code sharing, and as a social networking site for programmers. Many companies and organizations use it to facilitate project management and collaboration. According to statistics collected in January 2020, it is the largest source code host, boasting over 100 million repositories, and used by over 40 million users.

Some of the topics we’ll cover in this article include:

  1. What is a version control system (VCS)?
  2. What is Git?
  3. What is GitHub?
  4. What are GitHub’s features?
  5. Who are GitHub’s competitors?

Before diving into our understanding of what is GitHub, let’s get an appreciation of its relevance by looking at a use case.

Use Case

Let’s consider the case of Decathlon, the world’s largest sporting goods retail brand. The company has 1600 stores in 52 countries, with nearly 100,000 employees.

Regardless of size, every company inevitably experiences challenging issues. Decathlon’s problems could be best summed up as:

  1. How will the company maintain workflow visibility and avoid redundancies in such a large workforce?
  2. How will the company hire developers for so many locations?

GitHub to the rescue! GitHub is not only an affordable resource but also features a great open source community. Since it is a cloud-based tool, the code is conveniently visible across the entire client organization, facilitating contributions by every participant.

GitHub allows collaboration developers all over the world. Open source solutions enable potential developers to contribute and share their knowledge to benefit the global community.

Git’s VCS is the most significant feature available for tackling these two problems. So let’s expand our knowledge of GitHub by taking a closer look at the Git version control system.

As we go ahead with our understanding of what GitHub is, let us next look into the Git version control system.

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Git Version Control System

The Git version control system, as the name suggests, is a system that records all the modifications made to a file or set of data, so that a specific version may be called up later if needed. The system makes sure that all the team members are working on the file’s latest version, and everyone can work simultaneously on the same project.


Before digging deeper into what GitHub is, let’s first take a look at the ‘Git’ part of GitHub.

What is Git?

Git is a version control system used for tracking changes in computer files. This function makes it an extremely popular utility in the programming world. It can handle projects of any size.

Git is used to coordinating the workflow among the members of a project team and track their progress over time. It benefits both programmers and non-technical users by keeping track of their project files. Git allows multiple users to work together without disrupting each other’s work. 


Now that you’ve been introduced to Git, let’s now get a better understanding of what is GitHub.

What is GitHub?

GitHub is a Git repository hosting service that provides a web-based graphical interface. It is the world’s largest coding community, and putting a code or a project out there brings increased, widespread exposure to your code. You can find source code in many different programming languages and keep track of all changes. Programmers use the command-line interface, Git, to make changes.

GitHub helps every team member work together on a project from any location while facilitating collaboration. You can also review previous versions at any previous point in time.


Now that we know what GitHub is, let us now gain a better understanding of its importance and relevance by taking a look at GitHub’s features.

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GitHub’s Features

1. Easy project management

GitHub is a place where project managers and developers coordinate, track, and update their work so that projects are transparent and stay on schedule.

2. Increased safety with packages

Packages can be published privately, within the team, or publicly to the open-source community. The packages can be used or reused by downloading them from GitHub.

3. Effective team management

GitHub helps all the team members stay on the same page and organized. Moderation tools like Issue and Pull Request Locking help the team to focus on the code.

4. Improved code writing

Pull requests help the organizations to review, develop, and propose new code. Team members can discuss any implementations and proposals through these before changing the source code.

5. Increased code safety

GitHub uses tools to identify and analyze vulnerabilities to the code that other tools tend to miss. Development teams everywhere work together to secure the software supply chain, from start to finish.

6. Easy code hosting

All the code and documentation are located in one place. There are millions of repositories on GitHub, and each repository has its own tools to help you host and release code.


Now that we know what GitHub is, let’s take a look at GitHub’s competition.

GitHub’s Competitors

The market provides many alternatives and competitors to GitHub. Some top choices include:

  1. Bitbucket
  2. Microsoft Team Foundation Server
  3. Phabricator
  4. GitLab
  5. Assembla
  6. Beanstalk
  7. SourceForge
  8. Helix Core
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We hope this article has helped you understand GitHub’s relevance. You learned the basics of a version control system, and how Git works. We explored why GitHub’s features make it such an important resource, then wrapped up by listing GitHub’s alternatives and competition.

For more information, check this video, which explains more about GitHub and the many ways you can use it.

Want to Learn More About Git?

Since Git is such a popular and useful tool in modern DevOps environments, that means there are plenty of career opportunities for developers who know it well. If this introduction piqued your interest in GIT, consider enrolling in Simplilearn’s DevOps Certification Training Course today!

About the Author

Ishan GabaIshan Gaba

Ishan Gaba is a Research Analyst at Simplilearn. He is proficient in Java Programming, Data Structures, and Project Management. Graduated in Information Technology, Ishan is also passionate about writing and traveling.

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