Why Git? Managing Version Control

A roomful of librarians interspersed with a few technology geeks gathered at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Phillips Auditorium last weekend to hear software developer and GitHub staffer Kyle Daigle speak passionately about distributed version control through the use of Git and GitHub. Part of the DST4L course initiated by John G. Wolbach’s Head Librarian, Chris Erdmann, this all day Saturday class covered the foundations and history of Git (a distributed revision control and source code management (SCM) system ) and GitHub (a Git repository web-based hosting service). It was a learning experience on both sides as the class went over a wide range of practical applications of the software ranging from team code development projects to more personal uses including tracking changes to this week’s grocery list.

The slides Kyle led the DST4L group through are posted online as part of Github Training’s foundation class called “Understanding Version Control”. With no background in librarianship, Kyle focused on Git and GitHub from a practical viewpoint leaving it to the class to make their own personal connections to as to possible workplace usage. Instead the class learned about the history of GitHub, plans for future developments and the story behind its iconic Octocat Mona Lisa’s many guises from an insider’s perspective. Since its start in 2008, GitHub has grown to include more than 6 million users, making it the most popular version control system out there – and as open source, it is free!

Unlike many technical training sessions, Saturday’s seemed to fly by. Often using oatmeal raisin cookies (rather than books) as his imaginary metadata basis, Kyle convincingly demonstrated Git and GitHub’s many possible uses. The class concentrated mostly on the web UX but he touched on differences between platforms as well as use of command line. In return, Kyle discovered many librarians have an ingrained fear of conflict resolution with more than one class member raising this issue!

Related Links:
Learning About Git by Daina Bouquin, Data & Metadata Services Librarian, Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University

DST4L_10182014 Class Notes by Emily Weirich

Three examples from Chris Erdmann, Why it is important for librarians to learn Git & GitHub:
Using GitHub to Write Papers
Making Your Code Citeable
A New Template for Workshop Websites

Favorite Git resurces and tips from Julie Swierczek.
A really great introductory explanation of Git:

A recommended step-by-step tutorial:

Another helpful explanation of what Git does:

CodeSchool has a free intro git course but I found it assumed a lot of knowledge.  It pretty much assumed that you’ve already tried using Git and you just need more clarification:

If you decide to use Git from the command line, this Git cheat sheet created by Nina Jaeschke of ninagrafik.com is very helpful:

GitHub Octonaut

GitHub Octonaut Mona Lisa

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