What is Git & GitHub? Are they the Same? — For Beginners

Objective: To help beginners understand what Git & GitHub are, and how they can save you from pulling your hair out on your game development journey.

Git & GitHub

What is Git?

Git was created back in 2005 as a free, open source version control system (VCS) for your local projects by Linus Torvalds. It is a tool that is used to track the changes you have made to source code in a given project. It provides users the opportunity to revert source files back to an original state if needed.

What is Version Control?

You can think of version control as a save feature for your project. It has the powerful ability to store and restore previous versions of source code you have saved. As a game developer we are constantly adding to our existing code, either trying to implement new features, make previous ones more efficient or more often than not, coming back and fixing new bugs that have just been discovered in previous versions for apps or games that have already been released. At some point along the way we find ourselves unintentionally breaking the source code. Having the option to restore previous functional code can honestly be life saving and until you find yourself in this position, you really won’t appreciate how handy it is to have this tool at your disposal.

E.g. Brian’s team has recently launched a new game to the market through v1.0. Now he is working on adding additional content and features to the game that they plan on releasing in 6months time through v2.0. Unfortunately Brian has been made aware that there are some bug fixes that need to be resolved with v1.0. He can save all his work on v2.0 and load up the previous source code for v1.0 and apply the bug fixes to a patch through v1.1, before heading back to focus on the future content.

What is GitHub?

GitHub is a cloud based (remote) hosting service that was built around git for your git repositories. Remote repositories are essential for backup and collaboration when working with colleagues, other developers or simply as another option to have besides saving all your repositories locally on your computer. GitHub is much easier to manage and control source files instead of emailing or drop boxing files.

Some additional notes to help your understanding:

  • Git is installed locally on your computer and doesn’t require an internet (apart from downloading the software initially) or network connection to function. If you simply need a version control system or plan to work offline, this option is great. The downside to this is not having your work saved remotely in case of a nasty crash!
  • As GitHub is remote based storage, it requires an internet connection if your changes are to be successfully uploaded and saved to the remote server. You can save your changes to the local repository while offline and then ‘push’ the repository to the remote server when you are online.
  • With GitHub you can share your source code with others remotely who are also able to download, edit, add comments and upload back to the same remote repository.
  • With GitHub, multiple people are able to work on the same source code and it is able to resolve merge conflicts.
  • GitHub won’t work on your local computer if you don’t have Git installed.
  • GitHub is an excellent place to show off your work to prospective employers!

Hopefully this has helped you with your understanding of Git and GitHub and why it is so important to use.

Next up: How to Install Git & GitHub — For Beginners



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