Code hosting giant GitHub has added a small but significant new feature to the site: the ability to create new files through the web interface. The change makes it easier for non-Git-savvy contributors to quickly and easily add files to a repository.
You’ll find the new file creation tool just to the left of a repository’s breadcrumb menu. Click the new “New File” icon and GitHub will create a new file, ask you to name it and open it in the file editor — all right within your web browser.
Couple the new file creation tool with Git’s existing on-site document editor and you have the plain-text aficionado’s alternative to online editing suites like Google Docs or Microsoft’s Office 365.
At the very least the ability to create new documents through the web interface makes GitHub a more full-featured blogging engine for anyone using Jekyll, Hyde or other static site generators in conjunction with GitHub.
The new file creation tool is smart too. If you try to create a new file in a repository that you don’t have access to, GitHub will automatically fork the project and help you send a pull request to the original repository with your new file (much like it does when you edit a file through the web interface).
You can also do a bit of URL hacking to automatically create new files. Just add ?filename=yournewfile.txt at the end of the URL and GitHub will pre-fill the filename field with yournewfile.txt.
GitHub has also launched a new status site to report the current network health of the site. Should you for some reason not be able to connect to GitHub you can check the new status page to see if GitHub is down or if the problem is on your end. There’s also a new @githubstatus Twitter account you can follow for updates.
The new features are clearly aimed at those accustomed to working with Git via the command line. But even if you aren’t a terminal aficionado the new terminal-style tools in GitHub’s search bar are incredibly useful for quickly getting around the site — especially for keyboard navigation junkies since you can now navigate the site without ever taking your fingers off the keyboard.
To use the new command bar just type help and you’ll get a list of available commands. Most of the common things you’d want to do on GitHub — check in on a repo, view your notifications, create a new issue or see any pull requests on your projects — can now all be done from the search box/command line. Here are a few useful search operators:
View a user’s profile @username
Go to a repository user/repo
List a user’s repositories user/
List issues user/repo #
Search open issues user/repo #search term
As with any good command-line imitator, GitHub’s new search bar features tab completion, history and what the GitHub blog calls “smart filtering”. To browse your history for example, hit the up arrow key — just like you would working in the terminal.
For more details, check out the GitHub blog or head on over to GitHub and give the new command search bar a try.
Code sharing giant GitHub has rolled out some significant changes to the site’s notifications system, making it easier to keep track of interesting projects without being notified of every single change.
GitHub has always made it easy to “watch” a project, which means you’re notified whenever there are any updates. Now the company has added another level of watching, dubbed “stars,” to the mix. As GitHub’s Kyle Neath writes on the company blog, “stars are a new way to keep track of repositories that you find interesting.”
When you star a project you can keep track of it, but you won’t be notified of every change. Think of starring a project on GitHub as a more casual way of watching, the equivalent of bookmarking it for later. To make it easier to do that, every repo now has a star button next to the familiar watch button.
The big difference between watching and starring a project comes down to notifications. If you are watching a repository, you will receive notifications for all discussions — project issues, pull requests, comments on commits and any other comments. If you’re not watching a repo you’ll just receive notification for the discussions you participate in.
The other main thing worth noting is that any repositories you were previously watching can now be found on your stars page. If you want to go back to watching them, you’ll need to change them over yourself. There’s also a new auto-watch feature; when you’re given push access to a repository GitHub automatically adds it to your watch list.
Git is in your browser, versioning your files. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey
If you’ve got 15 minutes to spare you too can learn Git, the distributed version control system that powers everything from NASA code to Wired articles.
That’s the promise of a new collaborative effort between GitHub and Code School, who have partnered to create Try Git — a way for new users to try out both Git and GitHub right in the web browser, no software installation necessary.
Much of Git’s success is due in part to its awesome documentation and numerous extra free resources — like Scott Chacon’s Pro Git book — which explain Git in great detail. But nice as those resources are they still require installing software before you can get to the hands-on learning.
Try Git skips the installation and puts a Git prompt right in your browser. It’s still a command line prompt, which might scare away some users, but it’s paired with step-by-step instructions and a visual representation of a Git repository, along with some tips and tricks for figuring out Git.
The Try Git tool also neatly integrates with GitHub. There’s no need to use GitHub — though it does offer some great hosting tools — but the Try Git site interacts with GitHub via OAuth and will push your tutorial repository to your GitHub account as a repo named try_git.
What’s far more interesting than what your friends are doing? What your code is doing, of course. That’s why we’re enjoying Gitspective, developer Zach Moazeni’s Facebook-style timeline for your GitHub events.
Moazeni’s code uses the GitHub API to pull in pushes, forks, gists, branches, tags, follows and comments, displaying them in a vertical timeline reminiscent of Facebook. If you’d like to try it out, just head over to Gitspective’s GitHub page and plug in your GitHub user name.
The Gitspective code is still a work in progress and Moazeni has already listed a few wish-list items over on the Hacker News thread. If you’d like to contribute, grab the code on GitHub.