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#How to get started with GitHub Compiled by Ashley Shade for EDAMAME2016. Contributors: John Chodkowski and Jackson Sorenson EDAMAME-2016 wiki

EDAMAME tutorials have a CC-BY license. Share, adapt, and attribute please!

##Overarching Goal

  • This tutorial will contribute towards building computing literacy, specifically towards computing workflow development and version control.

##Learning Objectives

  • Set up a GitHub Account
  • Initialize a GitHub Account using the command line
  • Pull a repository
  • Basic git commands: pull, push, status, add, commit
  • Markdown syntax for text-to-html conversion

Preamble: GitHub provides excellent resources, and most of this tutorial points to existing GitHub documentation.

##1. Create a GitHub account.

##2. Set up Git on your personal computer

  • Download git by clicking on the link
  • Configure git using git config. Note there are separate instructions for Mac, Windows, and Linux users.
  • Authenticate with GitHub. We suggest using HTTPS for cloning, and cache-ing your GitHub password. Note there are separate instructions for Mac, Windows, and Linux users.
  • If you're a Windows user, you'll also have to download Gitbash in order to use git commands. Download this here.

##3. Fork and Clone a repository The main benefit of forking a repository is that it allows you to copy an existing repository and then have the ability to make your own edits to the repository without changing the original repository.

  • Navigate to the EDAMAME 2016-tutorials repository.
  • On the upper right-hand side there is a box labeled "Fork". Click on that.


  • You'll be re-directed to your github account. The repository is now on your github account but we still need to clone the repository so we have local access to the files.
  • In the new window, on the right hand side there is a box labeled "Clone or download".


  • Click on that and then copy the link.
  • Choose a local directory that you want this repository to be added to. Change into that directory and use git clone with the URL just copied:
  • Note that the below command will not work for you because you need to appropriately edit the URL
git clone**YourGitHubName**/2016-tutorials.git
  • Directions for 'git clone' can also be found at GitHub.
  • This protocol can be used to clone any public repository. For EDAMAME repos, you can pull to get the most up-to-date materials from GitHub, but you cannot push to edit those resources and have your edits tracked to the main repository, because you are not part of the EDAMAME team. (More details on these commands below).

##4. Basic git commands

  • There is are a few youtube video tutorials that are a good introduction to git and version control. Here is one. We recommend that you work through the video with the instructor, pausing and starting again as needed, to get started with Git.

  • All git commands start with git. Git commands will only work within git repositories (you can't use them on any old directory on your computer).

  • The sequence of adding new files / updating a repo.

    • There is a sequence that is used to add something new to a github repo: git status, git pull, git add, git commit, and git push. The first two commands are extremely important if you're working in a shared repository with other collaborators. Since all collaborators may be making edits to the same document, you want to make sure you have the most up-to-date file before you make edits and submit your edits on a file to the repository. First, you use git status to determine if your files on your computer are different from the files on the remote git repository. If it is different, use git pull to make sure you are working with the most recent files, which will prevent conflicting edits with your team mates.
  • For more information on git status and git pull, see here and here. However, since we forked an EDAMAME repository, you currently have no collaborators. Since you are the sole editor of these files, git status and git pull are not needed.
  • Now, let's make a local edit and submit it to your github repository.

  • Change into the tutorial directory that we forked and cloned before. Remember, Windows users should be using gitbash for all of these steps!

cd /path/to/directory/of/forked/repository
  • Using your favorite text editor, let's open the file. Use nano for Mac and Linux operating systems and use notepad for Windows. For more advanced text editors, see atom (MAC and Linux) and sublime (Windows) below.

Mac and Linux users


Windows users


Make any edit you want to the document, save it, and then close.

We have made edits on our local computers, but these edits have not been uploaded to our github repository. We will use git add, git commit, and git push to do so.

  • Use git add to start tracking changes to an existing file.
git add FILENAME

In our case,

git add
  • Use git commit to create a git version control. A brief message after the -m flag must be provided to share with users what the new update is about. It should probably be more specific than the example below.
git commit -m "update file"
  • Use git push to push your committed version of the file to the remote repository.
git push

Did it work? Re-load your github webpage and navigate to the file. Do you see your edits?

##5. Writing workflows in Markdown for use on GitHub

How do we create these helpful tutorials on github, with headers, links, images, etc? Markdown!

  • Markdown is a syntax for fast text-to-html conversion so that it is readable and web-ready.
  • The extension of a markdown document is ".md". GitHub will automatically render documents with .md extension to be pretty on the web interface.
  • You can use any text editor to write a mark down document. Two nice open ones are sublime and atom.
  • Take a look a this document "raw" to have an exampe of what markdown looks like without rendering.
  • Here is one cheatsheet for Markdown syntax; there are many!
  • Fun Exercise! : Create a markdown document and post it to a new GitHub repository that you've created.

##Help and other resources