tryGit – Finally an easy way to learn Git and GitHub

If you have ever tried to use GitHub and half an hour later wanted to throw your computer out the window, you are not alone. To save computers everywhere from high falls and imminent death, the good people at GitHub and Code School have created tryGit, a 15 minute interactive course that teaches you how to use Git and GitHub without performing computercide in the process.

A few months ago I wrote about the new GitHub for Windows and how it took strides to democratize coding. But even with this new tool, wrapping your head around how Git, GitHub and version control in general works can be quite a challenge, especially for people who don’t live and breathe code.

To further democratize the use of tools like Git and GitHub a proper learning environment is required. Because although documentation is great, it is often unapproachable. I’ve been trying two figure out how best to teach people how to use GitHub myself. The best I could come up with was a general idea of a hands-on coding environment where people could do guided lessons and experiment in a safe setting. How I would pull that off I had no idea. Fortunately I wasn’t the only one on that track, and now GitHub has teamed up with Code School to create pretty much the same thing, just much better: tryGit.

No love for octodog
No love for octodog

tryGit is a clever tool that walks you through all the main stages of using Git and GitHub in a guided step-by-step process. From start to finish the course takes 15 minutes and results in a new repository being published on your GitHub account. The genius in tryGit is that it creates a realistic scenario, takes you through the proper algorithm to get things done, and addresses the main issues people run into when starting to play with Git and GitHub, all in a fun and quite amusing environment.

By following the lesson from start to finish you get to publish, modify, merge, and delete dogs and cats aplenty. What the people at GitHub have against octodog is beyond me, but reading the instructions made me chuckle several times which is a great accomplishment for a learning tool designed to teach you something that is both highly technical and dull.

I said it in my earlier article and I’ll say it again: The biggest hurdle for the democratization of code is creating environments and tools everyone can use regardless of background. By launching tryGit, GitHub has taken great strides to educate the general public on how to use this tool and allow them to start scraping at the surface of the wonderful world of open source development.

Whomever came up with this idea, I applaud you.

GitHub Open Source

GitHub for Windows changes everything

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the web development world or lifted the lid on the code behind your own or someone else’s website, you will at some point have encountered a site called GitHub. GitHub is the home of millions of open source code repositories that are in constant flux and evolution, and GitHub is where you will find the bleeding edge of innovation when it comes to code on the web.

The challenge with GitHub, at least for Windows users (so the majority of the computer literate population) is that there has never been a good Windows-based interface for GitHub. As a result, Windows users have been relegated to using GitBash or another command line based interface. And though this isn’t a solid non-starter, it is rather intimidating and hard to wrap your head around if you’re not used to using command line.

Those days are gone. Yesterday GitHub released GitHub for Windows at A graphical user interface (GUI) that allows you to manage your GitHub repositories with ease using familiar point-and-click behaviors. And it’s designed with Metro principles to boot. Though this may seem like a small deal for Git affiliations and Mac Dogmatics it is in fact a groundbreaking very big deal. And here’s why:

The Democratization of Code

As I alluded to earlier, previous Windows solutions related to GitHub have been command line based and therefore unapproachable to say the least. And in today’s world, that is a serious problem. Though people like me who grew up in the dark ages of computing with MS-DOS as our operating system, the modern computer user is not familiar with command line and finds it hard and cumbersome to use. As a result, services like GitHub have been relegated to the selected few who have the skills to user command line or use other operating systems. In other words, GitHub has been the domain of the coding elite.

Because the web runs on code, and code has been relatively hard to learn and understand, it has been the purview of a select group of people who can read, write, and understand code. But in the last several years this bar has been lowered substantially by the introduction of rock solid Content Management Systems like WordPress and user interfaces that make it easier to use and understand what happens behind the scenes. The result of this democratization of code is that now anyone with a computer and an internet connection can publish and customize their own websites and take control of their message online. That is the very definition of a revolution.

In the past several weeks there has raged a debate in the development community over an initiative called “Code Year” which claims that the ability to code is so vital to the modern world that everyone should learn how to code. The (not so) surprising thing about the debate is that the detractors by and large argue that “regular people” don’t have the ability to learn how to code. In other words, the elite is afraid that their pedestals will shrink and they will be brought down to the level of everyone else.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I sit firmly on the other end of that argument: Not only do I believe that everyone should learn how to code; I believe that everyone can learn how to code and be good at it too.

GitHub for Windows (again)

Which brings me back to GitHub for Windows. The reason I am so excited about this release is not that it makes it easier for Windows users to use GitHub but instead that it makes GitHub available to all Windows users regardless of skill level. That is an important distinction and one that will be felt almost immediately in the GitHub community. What was once the purview of the coding elite has suddenly become the playground of anyone with an aspiration to use, collaborate, or publish their own pieces of code.

Revolutions usually start with a single spark. I believe this is one of them. Go download GitHub for Windows and be part of it.