GitHub launches desktop client to lure more developers

The GitHib desktop can branch copies of a software project and then merge user changes back into the project

The GitHub desktop client allows users to merge code to the master branch for deployment right from the app itself.

The GitHub desktop client allows users to merge code to the master branch for deployment right from the app itself.

Looking to expand its already considerable user base, GitHub has introduced a new desktop GUI client that streamlines many of the functions of the online code repository.

The company is hoping that a GUI will attract those developers who are not as comfortable with the text-based interface used by GitHub's current crop of users, said Amy Palamountain, GitHub senior software engineer.

The free GitHub Desktop software, available for both Macs and Windows machines, supports most of the advanced functions now handled by the command line.

GitHub is a popular site for hosting software code. It uses the open source Git version control system first developed by Linux creator Linus Torvalds. It is now home to about 25 million software projects, making it the world's largest online code repository, according to the San Francisco company.

In addition to managing the code for large software projects, GitHub can also be used for managing other large collaborative projects, such as documentation files or Web sites.

Though the site offers the ability to download code via a Web page, to date, the chief way to interact with GitHub projects has been through a command line interface. The company did offer two different GUIs for Windows and Mac, though each had a different look-and-feel and offered limited functionality. Users of those programs will have the option to upgrade to the new client.

The new desktop software works exactly the same on Windows as it does on Mac, which should reduce the learning curve for those developers who hop back and forth between the two environments. It includes the ability to copy sections of the code to work on locally, called branching, which allows users to review code and create changes on their own machines.

The desktop client can also be used to commit developers' changes back into the main body of source code. It provides a full, updated view of the software project, both the master copy and the user's own copy.

The company did considerable work in creating the software so it can avoid race conditions, in which two people are working on the same part of the code base, and may overwrite each other's work, Palamountain said. The software can alert users when someone else is also working on the same code, and block simultaneous changes to the code base.

Although the company does not offer a Linux version of the desktop client, it is currently looking into the idea, Palamountain said. In addition to work with GitHub, the desktop clients can also be configured to work with privately run copies of Git, and will be included in the GitHub enterprise distribution as well.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags cloud computinginternetsoftwareapplication developmentGitHubSoftware as a serviceDevelopment tools

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?