5 min read

An unreliable versioning tool makes product development a herculean task. Creating and enforcing checks and controls for the introduction, scrutiny, approval, merging, and reversal of changes in your source code, are some effective methods to ensure a secure development environment.

Git and GitHub offer constructs that enable teams to conduct version control and collaborative development in an effective manner.  When properly utilized, Git and GitHub promote agility and collaboration across a team, and in doing so, enable teams to focus and deliver on their mandates and goals.

We recently interviewed Joseph Muli and Alex Magana, the authors of Introduction to Git and GitHub course. They discussed the various benefits of Git and GitHub while sharing some best practices and myths.

Author Bio

Joseph Muli loves programming, writing, teaching, gaming, and travelling. Currently, he works as a software engineer at Andela and Fathom, and specializes in DevOps and Site Reliability. Previously, he worked as a software engineer and technical mentor at Moringa School. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Alex Magana loves programming, music, adventure, writing, reading, architecture, and is a gastronome at heart. Currently, he works as a software engineer with BBC News and Andela. Previously, he worked as a software engineer with SuperFluid Labs and Insync Solutions. You can follow him on LinkedIn or GitHub.

Key Takeaways

  • Securing your source code with version control is effective only when you do it the right way. Understanding the best practices used in version control can make it easier for you to get the most out of Git and GitHub.
  • GitHub is loaded with an elaborate UI. It’ll immensely help your development process to learn how to navigate the GitHub UI and install the octo tree.
  • GitHub is a powerful tool that is equipped with useful features. Exploring the Feature Branch Workflow and other forking features, such as submodules and rebasing, will enable you to make optimum use of the many features of GitHub.
  • The more elaborate the tools, the more time they can consume if you don’t know your way through them. Master the commands for debugging and maintaining a repository, to speed up your software development process.
  • Keep your code updated with the latest changes using CircleCI or TravisCI, the continuous integration tools from GitHub.
  • The struggle isn’t over unless the code is successfully released to production. With GitHub’s release management features, you can learn to complete hiccup-free software releases.

Full Interview

Why is Git important? What problem is it solving?

Git, like all other version control tools, exists to solve for one problem, change. This has been a recurring issue, especially when coordinating work on teams, both locally and distributed, that specifically being an advantage of Git through hubs such as GitHub, BitBucket and Gitlab.

The tool was created by Linus Torvalds in 2005 to aid in development and contribution on the Linux Kernel. However, this doesn’t necessarily limit Git to code any product or project that requires or exhibits characteristics such as having multiple contributors, requiring release management and versioning stands to have an improved workflow through Git. This also puts into perspective that there is no standard, it’s advisable to use what best suits your product(s).

What other similar solutions or tools are out there? Why is Git better?

As mentioned earlier, other tools do exist to aid in version control. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a version control system for your organizations, depending on product needs and workflows.

Some organizations have in-house versioning tools because it suits their development. Some organizations, for reasons such as privacy and security or support, may look for an integration with third-party and in-house tools.

Git primarily exists to provide for a faster and distributed version system, that is not tied to a central repository, hub or project. It is highly scalable and portable. Other VC tools include Apache SubVersion, Mercurial and Concurrent Versions System (CVS).

How can Git help developers? Can you list some specific examples (real or imagined) of how it can solve a problem?

A simple way to define Git’s indispensability is enabling fast, persistent and accessible storage. This implies that changes to code throughout a product’s life cycle can be viewed and updated on demand, each with simple and compact commands to enable the process.

Developers can track changes from multiple contributors, blame introduced bugs and revert where necessary. Git enables multiple workflows that align to practices such as Agile e.g. feature branch workflows and others including forking workflows for distributed contribution, i.e. to open source projects.

What are some best tips for using Git and GitHub?

These are some of the best practices you should keep in mind while learning or using Git and GitHub.

  • Document everything
  • Utilize the README.MD and wikis
  • Keep simple and concise naming conventions
  • Adopt naming prefixes
  • Correspond a PR and Branch to a ticket or task.
  • Organize and track tasks using issues.
  • Use atomic commits
Editor’s note: To explore these tips further, read the authors’ post ‘7 tips for using Git and GitHub the right way’.

What are the myths surrounding Git and GitHub?

Just as every solution or tool has its own positives and negatives, Git is also surrounded by myths one should be aware of. Some of which are:

  • Git is GitHub
  • Backups are equivalent to version control
  • Git is only suitable for teams
  • To effectively use Git, you need to learn every command to work
Editor’s note: To explore these tips further, read the authors’ post ‘4 myths about Git and GitHub you should know about’.  

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