GitHub is a web-based open source development platform and hosting service that allows users to upload files, documents, and computer code to their accounts. GitHub allows both registered and non-registered users to view, download and even contribute to the uploaded files and source code repositories. Due to its low cost and features, GitHub became the largest source code platform in the world, being used by many developers as a way to perform collaborative work, while also being able to share a variety of software, files, and documentation.

How GitHub works

Once a GitHub account is registered, the user is able to create their own directory of files and content, which is called repository. After creating a repository, one is able to create the so-called master branch. GitHub master branches represent the single starting point of any project. It is up to the user to make a project available to anyone (public repository) or to restrict the access to it and share only with certain users (private repository). From a master branch, sub-branches can be created, which basically allows the user to work on various aspects of the project separately. On a public repository, other users are able to suggest changes to the code, eventually uploading new versions of the files. Suggestions are made through a feature called pull request, which enables the developers to discuss and review the potential changes before they are effectively applied. The GitHub platform offers a variety of features and tools that make it easy for developers to make or revert changes and to track their overall progress.

What is a pull request?

A pull request allows users to tell others about the changes they have made to a certain branch or repository. When a pull request is created, the user is taken to an overview screen where he can easily review all the changes made to the code, comparing the old and the new version. Therefore, all changes are documented and recorded and users may also add comments, labels, and milestones or even assign specific tasks to other contributors. 

Who uses GitHub?

Because of its flexible platform, GitHub has users from both the public and private sector. Software companies, App developers, individual programmers, and cryptocurrency developers are just some examples. As an open source project, Bitcoin GitHub has many developers around the world, with lots of people contributing to the review and improvement of the Bitcoin source code.

Is GitHub free?

GitHub is free for all open source and commercial development projects. However, the free plans limit the numbers of private and public repositories that can be created by an account. The free plans also limit the number of collaborators a project can have. Therefore, larger projects may need to upgrade to a paid GitHub plan, according to their needs.