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Beginner’s Guide to Git and GitHub with Rizèl Scarlett

How to use Git and GitHub to create a navigable timeline of code changes and enable collaboration.

Beginners’ Guide to Git and GitHut with Rizèl Scarlett

Two weeks ago, we launched our new web development and JavaScript bootcamps. Combined, they’ve accrued over 17K enrollments. Every week, a guest speaker shares their experience with our bootcampers, teaching them important developer skills.

Last week, Barbara Oakley and Zach Caceres, who’d been guest speakers in our inaugural bootcamp, returned to teach our aspiring developers neuroscience-based techniques to learn programming effectively, thereby readying them for the weeks of bootcamp ahead.

This week, we had an entirely new guest speaker. Rizèl Scarlett, software engineer and developer advocate at GitHub, joined us to talk about Git and GitHub, two tools widely used nowadays for version control — that is, to keep track of code changes over time.

What’s Version Control

Picture this: you have to write an article with a friend. So you create a document, add some text, name the document “version 1”, and send it to your friend. They tweak your text, add some more, rename it “version 2”, and send it back to you. We’ve probably all been there.

But what if instead of collaborating with one friend, you’re collaborating with ten? And what if everyone wants to work on the document at the same time? If two people change the same paragraph, which version should you keep? Things rapidly become unruly.

To address this problem, tools like Google Docs have introduced real-time collaboration (so everyone can see the document changes as they happen) and a version history (so everyone has access to a timeline of all the document changes).

Well, the same problem occurs in software development, often to a greater extent, since in large companies, it’s not rare for hundreds of developers to work on a common codebase. And we have a similar solution: it’s called “version control”.

Version control allows us to code collaboratively at scale by building an incremental history of code changes, and by allowing us to combine conflicting changes in a systematic fashion. And when it comes to modern version control, Git and GitHub are two very popular tools.

What are Git and GitHub

This brings us to the topic of Rizèl’s talk: what are Git and GitHub, why are they important, and how can aspiring developers start using them.

Simply put, Git is a tool that allows you to take snapshots of your codebase and keep a navigable timeline of these snapshots. And GitHub is a website that allows you to centralize these snapshots, to allow several developers to collaborate on the same codebase.

Git and GitHub are widely used in modern software development. They’re a pivotal part of the development pipeline at Class Central, and in countless other companies. So they’re tools worth your time: the sooner you learn them, the sooner you’ll benefit from them.

Rizèl’s beautifully-animated and hands-on presentation covers the fundamental concepts and commands of Git and GitHub, including:

  • What are Git and GitHub? How are Git and GitHub different?
  • What’s a Git repository? How to initialize a Git repository?
  • What is the stage in Git? How to stage files in Git?
  • What’s a Git commit? How to make a commit in Git?
  • What’s a Git branch? How to create a branch in Git?
  • How to push commits to GitHub?

Rizèl also took the time to address at length our bootcampers’ questions about Git and GitHub, and about the realities of being a software engineer. So if you’d like to learn these tools, or if you’d like to get a glimpse into a developer’s day-to-day, I encourage you to watch Rizèl’s talk.

Manoel Cortes Mendez Profile Image

Manoel Cortes Mendez

Software engineer and online graduate student in computer science passionate about education, technology, and their intersection.

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