GitHub, an online hosting service for software development projects, is catching on with businesses looking for a way to collaborate on software projects.
Built on Git, an open-source revision-control system that manages and stores multiple versions of a project, GitHub's key innovation was its simple online interface, smart administration controls and a social component that lets you view users' profiles, contributions and project history.
All GitHub projects exist within repositories. Users can then "fork," or copy, a repository and make revisions to their heart's content. When their done, they can merge the code back into the original code base, provided that the repository owner is OK with that.
The founders of GitHub quickly found a massive following in the open-source community. In fact, there are now 8.2 million people collaborating across 19 million GitHub repositories, according to OpenSource.com.
Most GitHub projects are public. Coders collaborate on projects and the code is visible to the world.
In other cases, people just use Github's wiki features to document helpful information. For example, here's a simple repository that uses a GitHub wiki to explain how to run Minecraft on a Raspberry Pi.
As is the case with many new and useful software products, the applications for GitHub are morphing in ways the founders probably didn't expect.
Jon Udell of InfoWorld notes that GitHub is now "used to manage the collaborative development of recipes, musical scores, books, fonts, legal documents, lessons and tutorials, and data sets."
Having captured a dominant share of the market for public code collaboration, GitHub has moved on from their free offering and is now monetizing their solution in other ways.
For a modest fee, a company can create private GitHub repositories.
It's highly likely that the paid repository will work out for GitHub. For starters, the company clearly has the financial backing to build great solutions for private companies. They scored $100 million from Andreessen Horowitz in [date here]. Big companies like SAP have deployed private versions of GitHub and are saying that it's stimulating inner-company creativity and collaboration.
If your business does any coding whatsoever, it's probably worth checking out GitHub.
Even if your organization doesn't code much, I'd still recommend playing around with GitHub. While it takes a while to get the hang of it, once you do, you'll have connected a few synapses and it may stimulate some new ideas on how your business can tap into the power of collaboration to fuel the next round of growth.
Our small business writers cover all aspects of small business ownership. Our coverage is all about giving you news you can use to start and grow your business.