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GitHub, Inc. is a provider of Internet hosting for software development and version control using Git. It offers the distributed version control and source code management (SCM) functionality of Git, plus its own features. It provides access control and several collaboration features such as bug tracking, feature requests, task management, continuous integration and wikis for every project.[1] Headquartered in California, it has been a subsidiary of Microsoft since 2018.

It is commonly used to host open-source projects.[2] As of November 2021, GitHub reports having over 73 million developers[3] and more than 200 million repositories[4] (including at least 28 million public repositories).[5] It is the largest source code host as of November 2021.[6]



Development of the GitHub.com platform began on October 19, 2007.[7][8][9] The site was launched in April 2008 by Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath, P. J. Hyett and Scott Chacon after it had been made available for a few months prior as a beta release.[10] GitHub has an annual keynote called GitHub Universe.[11]

In early July 2020, the GitHub Archive Program was established, to archive its open source code in perpetuity.[12]


Projects on GitHub.com can be accessed and managed using the standard Git command-line interface; all standard Git commands work with it. GitHub.com also allows users to browse public repositories on the site. Multiple desktop clients and Git plugins are also available. The site provides social networking-like functions such as feeds, followers, wikis (using wiki software called Gollum) and a social network graph to display how developers work on their versions ("forks") of a repository and what fork (and branch within that fork) is newest.

Anyone can browse and download public repositories but only registered users can contribute content to repositories. With a registered user account, users are able to have discussions, manage repositories, submit contributions to others' repositories, and review changes to code. GitHub.com began offering unlimited private repositories at no cost in January 2019 (limited to three contributors per project). Previously, only public repositories were free.[13][14][15] On April 14, 2020, GitHub made "all of the core GitHub features" free for everyone, including "private repositories with unlimited collaborators."[16]

The fundamental software that underpins GitHub is Git itself, written by Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux. The additional software that provides the GitHub user interface was written using Ruby on Rails and Erlang by GitHub, Inc. developers Wanstrath,[17] Hyett, and Preston-Werner.


The main purpose of GitHub.com is to facilitate the version control and issue tracking aspects of software development. Labels, milestones, responsibility assignment, and a search engine are available for issue tracking. For version control, Git (and by extension GitHub.com) allows pull requests to propose changes to the source code. Users with the ability to review the proposed changes can see a diff of the requested changes and approve them. In Git terminology, this action is called "committing" and one instance of it is a "commit." A history of all commits is kept and can be viewed at a later time.

In addition, GitHub supports the following formats and features:

  • Documentation,[18] including automatically rendered README files in a variety of Markdown-like file formats
  • Wikis[19]
  • GitHub Actions,[20] which allows building continuous integration and continuous deployment pipelines for testing, releasing and deploying software without the use of third-party websites/platforms
  • Graphs: pulse, contributors, commits, code frequency, punch card, network, members
  • Integrations Directory[21]
  • Email notifications[22]
  • Discussions[23]
  • Option to subscribe someone to notifications by @ mentioning them.[24]
  • Emojis[25]
  • Nested task-lists within files
  • Visualization of geospatial data
  • 3D render files that can be previewed using a new integrated STL file viewer that displays the files on a "3D canvas."[26] The viewer is powered by WebGL and Three.js.
  • Photoshop's native PSD format can be previewed and compared to previous versions of the same file.
  • PDF document viewer
  • Security Alerts of known Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures in different packages

GitHub's Terms of Service do not require public software projects hosted on GitHub to meet the Open Source Definition. The terms of service state, "By setting your repositories to be viewed publicly, you agree to allow others to view and fork your repositories."[27]


GitHub also operates a pastebin-style site called Gist,[10] which is for code snippets, as opposed to GitHub proper, which is for larger projects. Tom Preston-Werner débuted the feature at a Ruby conference in 2008.[28]

Gist builds on the traditional simple concept of a pastebin by adding version control for code snippets, easy forking, and TLS encryption for private pastes. Because each "gist" has its own Git repository, multiple code snippets can be contained in a single paste and they can be pushed and pulled using Git.

Unregistered users were able to upload Gists until February 18, 2018, when uploading gists became available only to logged-in users, reportedly to mitigate spamming.[29]

Gists' URLs use hexadecimal IDs, and edits to gists are recorded in a revision history, which can show the text difference of thirty revisions per page with an option between a "split" and "unified" view. Like repositories, Gists can be forked and "starred", i.e. publicly bookmarked. The count of revisions, stars, and forks is indicated on the gist page.[30]

GitHub Sponsors[edit]

GitHub Sponsors allows users to make monthly money donations to projects hosted on GitHub.[31] The public beta was announced on May 23, 2019, and the project accepts wait list registrations. The Verge said that GitHub Sponsors "works exactly like Patreon" because "developers can offer various funding tiers that come with different perks, and they'll receive recurring payments from supporters who want to access them and encourage their work" except with "zero fees to use the program." Furthermore, GitHub offer incentives for early adopters during the first year: it pledges to cover payment processing costs, and match sponsorship payments up to $5,000 per developer. Furthermore, users still can use other similar services like Patreon and Open Collective and link to their own websites.[32][33]

GitHub Archive Program[edit]

In July 2020, GitHub stored a February archive of the site[12] in an abandoned mountain mine in Svalbard, Norway, part of the Arctic World Archive and not far from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The archive contained the code of all active public repositories, as well as that of dormant, but significant public repositories. The 21TB of data was stored on piqlFilm archival film reels as matrix (2D) barcode (Boxing barcode), and is expected to last 500–1,000 years.[34][35][36][37]

The GitHub Archive Program is also working with partners on Project Silica, in an attempt to store all public repositories for 10,000 years. It aims to write archives into the molecular structure of quartz glass platters, using a high-precision laser that pulses a quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) times per second.[37]

GitHub in use in the Creatures Community[edit]

Arguably, the first Creatures-related repository was openc2e, created by CCDevNet in May 2008.[38] The GIMP Plugin source code was placed on GitHub some time after 2008, when it was updated.[39]

c2ephp was created as a GitHub repository by Telyn in 2010.[40]

Pilla uses GitHub for her projects, including the Other Lone Shee Ark, CAev, the Fixup Metaroom project for CCSF 2017, the Betaship, Pilla's Improved Favplaces, the Elevator vendor, Heatlamp, Import Picker, Game Controller, small tools, the updated metaroom map, and the Banshee Ark.

Zzzzoot maintains several GitHub repositories for his Creatures projects, including the Bendy plant and Puff plant released for CCSF 2017, a repository of helpful scripts for Docking Station, the Children of Capillata metarooms, a Blender script for turning models into Creatures sprites, and Storyteller.

Geat Masta used GitHub extensively for his later projects, including LibFreetures, C16scaler, MapEditor2 and Kreatures.

Ham5ter uses GitHub for projects such as the CAOS Class Library, CAOS Console, Prayer and Albian Warp.

Malkin uses GitHub for some of her more recent projects, such as the Mushroom Forest metaroom.

Sgeo has used GitHub for Revive Creature.

See also[edit]


  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20200919130235/https://techcrunch.com/2012/07/09/github-pours-energies-into-enterprise-raises-100-million-from-power-vc-andreesen-horowitz/
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20150629152927/http://www.wired.com/2015/06/problem-putting-worlds-code-github/
  3. https://github.com/search?q=type:user&type=Users
  4. https://github.com/search
  5. https://github.com/search?q=is:public
  6. https://www.win.tue.nl/~aserebre/msr14georgios.pdf
  7. https://blogs.esri.com/esri/arcgis/2014/02/10/github-ceo-and-co-founder-chris-wanstrath-keynoting-esris-devsummit/
  8. https://github.com/blog/185-github-turns-one
  9. https://www.slideshare.net/err/inside-github/28-2007_octoberThe_rst_commit_was
  10. 10.0 10.1 https://www.sitepoint.com/github-gist-is-pastie-on-steroids/
  11. https://www.githubuniverse.com
  12. 12.0 12.1 https://github.blog/2020-07-16-github-archive-program-the-journey-of-the-worlds-open-source-code-to-the-arctic/
  13. http://fortune.com/2019/01/07/microsoft-github-free-code-projects-small-teams-repositories/
  14. https://www.cnet.com/news/github-is-giving-free-users-unlimited-private-repositories/
  15. https://www.businessinsider.com/github-adds-free-private-repositories-2019-1
  16. https://github.blog/2020-04-14-github-is-now-free-for-teams/
  17. https://web.archive.org/web/20130305051939/http://doeswhat.com/2012/03/06/interview-with-chris-wanstrath-github/
  18. https://docs.github.com/en
  19. https://docs.github.com/en/communities/documenting-your-project-with-wikis/about-wikis
  20. https://github.com/features/actions
  21. https://github.com/integrations
  22. https://docs.github.com/en/repositories/managing-your-repositorys-settings-and-features/managing-repository-settings/about-email-notifications-for-pushes-to-your-repository
  23. https://docs.github.com/en/discussions
  24. https://github.com/blog/821
  25. https://help.github.com/categories/writing-on-github/
  26. https://makezine.com/2013/04/09/github-now-supports-stl-file-viewing/
  27. https://help.github.com/articles/github-terms-of-service/
  28. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/god-rb/Acyit8SlgcI
  29. https://github.blog/2018-02-18-deprecation-notice-removing-anonymous-gist-creation/
  30. https://gist.github.com/shaunlebron/746476e6e7a4d698b373/revisions
  31. https://github.com/sponsors
  32. https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/23/18637344/github-sponsors-patreon-style-crowdfunding-open-source
  33. https://github.blog/2019-05-23-announcing-github-sponsors-a-new-way-to-contribute-to-open-source/
  34. https://gizmodo.com/github-has-stored-its-code-in-an-arctic-vault-it-hopes-1844420340
  35. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/github-the-worlds-largest-open-source-software-site-just-had-mounds-of-data-stored-in-the-permafrost-chamber-of-an-old-coal-mine-deep-in-an-arctic-mountain-for-1000-years/ar-BB16U75c
  36. https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/m7jpab/21-terabytes-of-open-source-code-is-now-stored-in-an-arctic-vault
  37. 37.0 37.1 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-13/github-code-vault-in-artic-svalbard-safeguards-against-calamity/12517948
  38. https://github.com/ccdevnet?tab=overview&from=2008-12-01&to=2008-12-31
  39. https://github.com/ligfx/gimp-creatures-sprites#readme
  40. https://github.com/telyn?tab=overview&from=2010-03-01&to=2010-03-31

Due to technical limitations, the complete revision history of this page can be found at wp:GitHub, excluding edits newer than this page's first edit.