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What is Git Hosting?

If you need a powerful version control system (VCS) that is free to use, look no further than Git. Created with speed and flexibility at the forefront, Git is a top-notch supply-chain management (SCM) system.

You’d be hard pressed to find anybody that likes to lose their work. It’s hard enough getting people to save their own documents consistently, and every coder or developer has been burned one time or another in their careers. It is possible that one developer could develop the behaviors to try and save every change they make, commit pieces to a product and track everything under one system. When you try to scale that up with multiple people, it’s just not happening.

Enter Git

Git has two major benefits to it and the first is history. Developers progressively work on code, refining it, adding features and testing things. At one point or another, they arrive at a point where they can commit their changes to Git. That saves the project for posterity as it was at that moment in time. More work comes along, more changes are made and another commit is sent to Git, marking another point in time. Over time, it’s very easy to review the history and schedule of changes. This is great for troubleshooting and things can get rolled back to a certain point in time.

Collaborate

The next benefit is collaboration. Git allows people to share the commits they build in an operation known as a merge. Changes are then integrated into the most current version of the code, so they don’t have to worry about issues that can come from working with an outdated version. Every participant in the project basically comes to one place where the final version of work will always be. Having one body of knowledge simplifies the management and integrity of a project.

A Git instance allows a team of people to work together, while they all use the same files. This is especially powerful when you have disparate users around the world, have a sensitive project that requires tracking and versioning, or any time you have a lot of collaboration happening. It’s just a human condition that when you have more than one person editing the same files, confusion will happen. When the files in question are code, it can disintegrate very quickly and that can be a very bad thing. Git helps teams have a system that controls that.

Open Source

Git is free and open-source, distributed under GNU Public License (GPL) 2. Git is written in C. It is a VCS, meaning it backs up every version of a file or directory keeping a historical archive of sorts. It was created to address the need for a free, powerful VCS for Linux kernel development. Versions are available for Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, and Solaris. Git has a graphical user interface (GUI) for ease of use. You may also choose from a selection of third party GUI tools, most of which are free.

Git allows extensive branching, including multiple local, independent branches. It functions almost completely on your local machine, so it can operate at optimal speed. It’s also distributed, so all users have a full backup on their machine. Not only does this help performance, but it’s also a nice failsafe in the event of a crash—and it lets you work offline when necessary.

Data is safe from unwanted changes due to the nature of Git’s data model. Git check-sums everything before it stores it, and tracks all changes. This cornerstone of Git protects files from corruption. One standout feature of Git is its staging area. This space lets you format and review file commits before completing them. With it you have the choice to commit files without committing all other modified files. Alternately, you can add “-a” to a commit command to skip the staging area and commit the file(s) immediately.

Git Hosting

Git hosting is required for you to have a remote depository for users to access. Even though you have locally stored data to work from, this remote depository serves as a collaboration point.

You may either create and host this Git server yourself, or choose from wide selection of free and paid Git hosting sites. Git doesn’t require tons of resources to run, so plan features include set number of users, projects, collaborators and storage space.

If you already have hosting, check with your host before installing Git to ensure your plan is compatible.

Many developers and teams of developers from throughout the industry employ this versioning control system to maintain code for projects. It’s not always obvious, but controlled development like this is actually faster development because you can prevent issues that are tied to revision problems and revert to a known place very easily.

Git Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Git?

    Git is an open source version control system. It provides a distributed approach to version control, as opposed to the centralized paradigm of most other version control systems.

  • What does “distributed” version control mean?

    With typical version control systems, the code base for an entire project is stored in a centralized repository. Files are “checked out” by developers, which involves copying those files locally and then locking the originals from further editing until the developer who checked them out uploads their changes and unlocks them. In contrast to that, with a distributed version control system, all nodes have a complete copy of both the entire code and every previous commit to the code base.

  • What is the advantage of distributed version control?

    The biggest advantage of a distributed version control system is agility. Many people can work on the project, and even on the same file, without locking each other out. Secondarily to creating a better workflow, a distributed system is less fragile because there is no single source of failure — the entire project can be reconstructed from any of the repos maintained by an entire development team.

  • How do we keep from over-writing work if there aren’t any file locks?

    The merge/pull feature provides detailed views into what has changed in each file and provides tools for ensuring that code is merged properly. Additionally, the typical development team (or Open Source project) using git usually alters their organization and workflow a bit to ensure there are no such problems.

  • What is GitHub? What is the different between Git and GitHub?

    Git is a software application for doing distributed version control. GitHub is a website and software service that provides a centralized Git server and additional development tools like an issue tracker, a project wiki and pull requests.

  • Can I use Git without GitHub?

    Yes. Git is a standalone piece of software that can be used apart from GitHub.

  • If Git is decentralized, why does GitHub provide a centralized repository?

    Even in a decentralized paradigm, some copy of the code has to be recognized as the authoritative copy. Most git users employ a single copy of the repo which acts as a central, or origin, repo. The canonical repo is centralized from a business and process standpoint but is on equal technical footing. No one repo is privileged over other repos.

  • What is a typical Git/GitHub workflow?

    The typical workflow for developing with git and GitHub is fork, branch, merge, pull (request). First, a developer *forks* a copy of the entire code repository. Next, the developer creates a special *branch* in the repo, which is a sort-of sub-copy used for working on individual features. After completing any new code, the branch is merged back into the main branch of the local/developer version. Then, the developer issues a pull request to the project admin, asking them to “pull in” their changes. The admin gets the request, reviews it, and (hopefully) merges the changes into the main repo. When the developer begins on another feature, the cycle repeats again with *fork*. It is important for developers to get a fresh copy of the code base at the beginning of each development cycle.

  • Can you install Git on a web hosting server?

    You will have to check the specific rules and requirements with your hosting provider. However, in most cases there is nothing stopping you from doing this.

  • Why would I want to install git on a web hosting server?

    Git provides a quick (one line of typing) way to copy an entire code base from one computer to another, even a remote server. This makes git an excellent option for fast and easy deployment.

  • Do I have to be comfortable with the command-line in order to use git?

    No, but it helps. Git is primarily a command-line tool: you navigate to the directory of your Git repository and use the command like to manage the git repository found in that directory. There is a GUI-based desktop application for both Windows and Man available. However, the desktop application does not provide as much advanced control of the Git utility as the command-line does. Further, the simple tasks that the GUI-based application can provide for you are easy enough for almost anyone to learn. This makes the GUI app less needed.

  • Can I edit a Git repository from inside a web browser?

    Yes. If you are tracking your git repo on GitHub, they provide a number of in-browser tools, including file editing.

  • What is .gitignore and why do I need it?

    The .gitignore file is a file in a Git repo which allows the developers to specify certain files or types of files to exclude from the repo. Files mentioned in the .gitignore file can be included in the same directory, but they are not tracked, and so they do not get copied to remote servers when repos are merged, nor can earlier versions of those files be found or recovered.

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