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'Major Update' Comes to Windows for GitHub

Cleaner UI for developers highlights the changes.

A major code repository continues to woo Windows developers, providing an update aimed at making it more efficient and easier to use.

GitHub.com this week unveiled an update of the application it launched two years ago to support Windows developers who want to use the Linux-centric code-hosting platform and its namesake revision control system for their projects. The company is describing Windows for GitHub 2.0 as a major update, emphasizing a new streamlined interface designed to help users focus on their work.

"Essentially, we wanted to create a workspace that is as distraction-free as possible," Tobias Ahlin, a GitHub designer and developer, said in an interview. "In October we did a UI overhaul, just cleaning things up. Then we took another critical look at the UI and really tried to strip it down and reduce the number of menus and options you need to navigate, to get everything you need on one screen, so that it's very easy to use and it's easier to get things done on GitHub. As we say, it puts what you're working on front and center."

For example: In this new UI, the sidebar groups repositories by where they originated, so that those repositories associated with GitHub Enterprise, the on-premises version of GitHub.com, are easy to distinguish from a developer's personal projects, and it's simple to switch between them, Ahlin said.

Along with the cleaned up UI, the application comes with a self-contained version of Git, the bash command-line shell, and the posh-git extension for PowerShell. And it uses the ClickOnce installer.

This update also gives Windows developers new access to features familiar to long-time GitHub users, Ahlin said, including the ability to pick an ignore file template for a project when a repository is created, and option to include emoji and gifs in commit messages.

"We tried to look at what Microsoft has been doing with Metro for tablets and mobile, keeping in mind what's happening with iOS and Android, and then try to take that back to the desktop environment for Windows," Ahlin said. "Because, sadly, Microsoft has kind of neglected the design language around that. So we tried to bring all the best bits back to the desktop environment and create and experience that feels very fresh.

GitHub has become one of the world's most popular social coding sites. Developers love the Git distributed version-control system developed by Linus Torvalds, and GitHub has played no small role in the growth of that popularity. The service has also enjoyed endorsements from the likes of the Eclipse Foundation, which has begun to allow the hosting of its projects on GitHub to attract new and maturing projects.

GitHub for Mac was released last year.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance author and journalist based in Silicon Valley. His latest book is The Everything Guide to Social Media. Follow John on Twitter, read his blog on ADTmag.com, check out his author page on Amazon, or e-mail him at john@watersworks.com.


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