GitHub is a massively popular tool among developers these days — and with good reason. It offers all of the functionality of Git, and much more to boot. Indeed, GitHub has become so important to modern software production that if you’re not using it, you’re likely making a mistake.
Let me explain. In this article, I’ll discuss all of the benefits of sharing code via GitHub. This will illuminate why many open source projects (plus some non-open source projects) are hosted on GitHub and why the platform has become the default code-sharing solution for software projects.
The Sheer Number of Developers and Projects
Let’s face it — Most programmers are already familiar with GitHub. It is, therefore, imperative to share code on a platform most contributors are familiar with. Currently, GitHub has over 31 million developers around the globe (more in 2018 alone than GitHub’s first six years combined), 2.1 million organizations, and 100 million repositories. The stats are only getting better each year.
The benefits that come with this is that a project is open to contributions from developers all over the world. Some projects on GitHub start with only a few contributors, but rapidly grow to having hundreds, if not thousands, of developers working on them. This way, bugs get fixed quicker, updates are released frequently, and project continuity is ensured.
Available Integration Options and Apps
One thing that makes GitHub very powerful and attractive to developers is the integration options it provides with apps and other services via the GitHub Marketplace. Integrations allow developers to supplement the functionalities provided by GitHub. You can possibly connect GitHub to your existing tooling and work without having to exit first. But it doesn’t stop there — GitHub also allows developers to create custom apps for their own needs using GitHub’s API.
Code hosted on GitHub can easily be linked and used on other platforms. With the click of a button, you can effortlessly turn a GitHub repository into a fully functional application on platforms like Heroku, Azure, or AWS. GitHub provides far better integration support than many other similar hosting platforms.
Catch Vulnerabilities with Security Alerts
Many projects have dependencies. Dependencies sometimes introduce vulnerabilities. And vulnerabilities, if not patched early enough, expose us to serious security risks. GitHub helps developers catch vulnerabilities in dependencies by notifying them of known vulnerabilities. Admins receive vulnerability notifications and can add others to the list. Additionally, fixes to some vulnerabilities are proposed, and sometimes safer versions are selected automatically using machine learning.
The GitHub security alert feature is very useful, and ensures that developers build quality applications that are safe. As a programmer, you can enjoy the benefits of being notified of vulnerabilities and possible solutions.
Resolve Issues and Improve Code Quality
Another feature that makes GitHub very appealing to developers is Issues. Issues is GitHub’s own bug tracker. It helps note ideas, bugs, tasks, and enhancements for a project. Once code is shared on GitHub, that’s not the end, as software is rarely ever written once. Code evolves, and Issues enables its evolution by allowing contributors to suggest ideas to projects and report bugs.
GitHub Issues takes collaboration to a different level. Because ideas and bugs can be suggested with Issues, contributions to projects are not limited to only the code-savvy. With millions of developers on the platform, project ideas can quickly be turned into features, and bugs can be completely eradicated.
For the record, GitHub may not be the perfect fit for every developer or every situation. For example, if you’re developing code that is not open source and that has high security or privacy needs, you probably don’t have anything to gain by putting it on GitHub, even in a private repository.
By and large, however, it’s hard to think of situations where GitHub is not advantageous. It’s easy to see why there has been a surge in the number of companies embracing the open source approach. The integration choices, the number of developers on the platform, security features, and issue reporting system (to mention just a few main items), make GitHub the first-choice platform for sharing code.