Getting to Know Git, Github and Open Source

In CMST 386, Web Development by Ian CarnaghanLeave a Comment

Fundamental to all modern web development is a strong foundational knowledge of version control. In recent years Git has emerged as the go-to choice for many developers and continues to gain popularity. Github is a platform that uses Git for source control. It provides an environment that encourages and fosters community open source development. It is a great platform to publish and use for version control on your own web sites and projects. Below I have listed several resources for getting started with Git, Github, Github Pages and Open Source.


For learning everything there is to know about Git, there is no better place to start than the excellent Pro Git book, written by Scott Chacon and Ben Straub. Apress offer this book for free in ebook format. Pro Git covers everything from the basics of version control, Git basics, through to advanced topics. Furthermore, I recommend taking a look at the excellent video below, Git Tutorial for Beginners: Command-Line Fundamentals (30:32).

Github Fundamentals

Github for Noobs is a video series by DevTips and brings you through the fundamentals of learning Git and working in Github. The video series provides a nice overview on how to get started and up to speed quickly.

In addition to DevTips excellent video tutorial series, check out Github Hello World (10 minute read). In addition, review the excellent Git Cheatsheet, which will come in handy for remembering all those Git commands!

Github Pages

Github pages offers you the ability to freely host your own webpages in an easy to use platform. It integrates directly with Github, so a working knowledge of Git is necessary to get the most out of this free service. In addition, you can even register your own domain name or use a free sub-domain provided by Github. There are several great resources for learning Github pages including the excellent Getting Started with GitHub Pages (10 minute read). In addition, check out the excellent video below, How to Setup Github Pages – Website on Github – Complete Beginner Tutorial (25:20).

Contributing to Open Source Projects

I often get asked by my students, “what are some of the best ways to improve my chances of landing a starting position in web development?” This is a common question especially if you are fresh out of college and have little experience. My response is always the same. Create a portfolio of work completed throughout your academic career. In addition to this, get involved by volunteering on an open source project. Even if you do not feel your coding skills are up to par yet, many open source projects will welcome your efforts. Most importantly, this is a great way to gain the experience needed to land that ideal web development position.

Read the wonderful How to Contribute to Open Source article by Open Source Guides. As well as building web development experience, contributing to open source is an excellent way to improve on your skills, meet other interesting people, find mentors, grow your reputation, and learn people skills. After reviewing all the resources on Open Source Guides, check out the informative Make Your First Contribution on GitHub (45:10) video below.

Finally, even if open source does not interest you right now, I highly recommend you invest some time in your own personal development by building your version control skills using Git. This has become a fundamental skill in most development work and will serve you well as you grow overall other web design and development knowledge.

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