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GitHub In 2016

GitHub is the biggest code host in the world, with more than 31 million repositories. For WordPress, it’s fundamental. It allows WordPress developers and users from around the world to easily collaborate on projects, which can be created and tested extensively all in one place.

It’s been an eventful year for the repository hosting service, and it’s only March. From adding emoji reactions, to the White House enlisting the company’s help, a lot has happened in just the last few months. This article takes a look at some of these milestones.

The Open Letter

In January, a group of GitHub users joined forces to write a letter airing grievances with the company. They felt like they weren’t being heard by GitHub’s customer service:

“We’ve gone through the only support channel that you have given us either to receive an empty response or even no response at all. We have no visibility into what has happened with our requests, or whether GitHub is working on them,” the letter said.

“Since our own work is usually done in the open and everyone has input into the process, it seems strange for us to be in the dark about one of our most important project dependencies.”

The letter went on to list ways to fix these problems and ended by saying the writers have been waiting for years for a response.

“If GitHub were open source itself, we would be implementing these things ourselves as a community — we’re very good at that,” the letter ended.

The Response

It didn’t take long for GitHub to respond. The response promised to work on the issues detailed in the letter.

“We’ll continue to focus on Issues moving forward by adding new features, responding to feedback, and iterating on the core experience,” the response said. “We’ve also got a few surprises in store.”

The surprises were issue and pull request templates. Issue templates ensure that everything is added in the bug report, so developers know exactly what they have to work on. Pull requests reduce clutter in the root directory.

These additions were a positive step towards making it easier for open-source developers to get their work done efficiently. The company also vowed to work on being more responsive to support requests.

Emojis

Earlier this month, GitHub added emoji reactions to respond to comments and posts. You can add a thumbs up or thumbs down instead of writing out your thoughts.

“While people have been able to include emojis in responses for a long time, using them as reactions resulted in a lot of noise,” the announcement said.

“In many cases, especially on popular projects, the result is a long thread full of emoji and not much content, which makes it difficult to have a discussion. With reactions, you can now reduce the noise in these threads.”

GitHub chose the six most relevant emojis to use as reactions.

The White House

One of the biggest pieces of GitHub news came just last week. The White House is looking into a Government-Wide Open Source Software Policy and wants input from developers. The place they’re hosting this feedback? GitHub, of course.

“This policy requires that, among other things: (1) new custom code whose development is paid for by the Federal Government be made available for reuse across Federal agencies; and (2) a portion of that new custom code be released to the public as Open Source Software (OSS),” the announcement said.

The new program states that certain agencies will have to release 20 percent of their code for consideration.

The consideration period will last until April 11, and the feedback will be analyzed and implemented after that.

GitHub Patch To Trac

Back in the State of the Word, Matt Mullenweg said that developers will soon be able to contribute to WordPress with pull requests. So far, we have yet to see that happen, and developer Ryan McCue was tired of waiting around.

“I realised I could do something about it right now as a proof-of-concept,” said McCue in his annoucement. “Trac exposes an XML-RPC interface, and GitHub exposes a REST API, so hooking the two up only requires a minimal amount of code.”

His fix is a Github Patch to Trac, which very simply allows for pull requests in WordPress. It’s a process that begins by finding your ticket, opening it in the WordPress/WordPress repo, going to the Patch to Trac page, and pulling it up. McCue’s announcement details the process. As you update, Patch will even rename your patches so you don’t have to.

“Internally, the utility uses GitHub’s API to get a patch format of the pull request, then uses Trac’s XML-RPC API to upload,” said McCue. “This requires your WordPress.org credentials, and because of cross-origin policy, also requires an intermediary server.”

This is something he would like to fix moving forward, as well as creating a bot that will automatically close requests and note where pull requests have been uploaded as a patch.

Until then, the process is working, and can be used now.

So far, 2016 has been a quite year for GitHub and things are going to keep getting better.

Emily Schiola

Emily Schiola is a Staff Writer at Torque. She loves good beer, bad movies, and cats.

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