Jan 23, 2019

What Is GitHub?

GitHub is a collaboration and version control tool that programmers, developers, engineers, and others in the tech industry use as a sort of insurance policy against losing their work. This public database is open to everyone for free, though there are paid versions that unlock more features. Though GitHub isn't the only online hosting service intended to help people save and share their code in a safe location, it's definitely among the most popular. That means it's important for aspiring tech industry professionals, from Front-End Web Developers to Robotics Software Engineers, to be familiar with GitHub and even have a presence on the site.

Who Uses GitHub and Why?

GitHub boasts a user community in the thousands and is growing all the time. That means you'll find all kinds of people using it, and not just developers and engineers. Journalists who use code to create databases or data visualization use GitHub, as do technical writers, academic researchers, and anyone else who might use computer code or work in a tech-focused space.

The reasons for this are varied, but they mostly boil down to two things: version control and collaboration. Think about it this way. If you build a website from scratch using code you've developed yourself, you'll probably end up updating that code at a certain point. But somewhere along the line, you might accidentally lose a file, delete some important content, or otherwise experience a change that you wish you could undo. With GitHub, you can consistently save versions of your code to an external source as a way of keeping track of the changes you've made over time and having insurance against broken technology on your end.

This also means that if you need someone else to look at your code or contribute to it, you have an easy and central location to point them to: your public GitHub profile. The version control aspect of GitHub means that multiple people can work on the same codebase without accidentally deleting each other's work or getting confused about who's doing what.

Do I Need to Learn GitHub?

If you want a job in tech, you should at least become familiar with GitHub and create a profile with some of your code. This can not only make you more visible for networking and portfolio purposes but can also help remove some of the knowledge barriers to entry for outsiders wanting to break into a new industry. Asking questions like "what is GitHub repository?" in a job interview can easily flag you as someone who doesn't really know what they're talking about, so getting familiar with this tool can help prove your interest and expertise in tech.