Set up GitHub

We are going to be using GitHub to collaborate. GitHub was purchased by Microsoft in 2018, and is worthy of much critique and criticism; however, it also offers an accessible way of learning Git for code version control and collaboration. GitHub is where a lot of open source software lives today, and where many software developers work. Alternatives to GitHub include GitLab, Bitbucket (owned by Atlassian), SourceForge, or rolling your own Git server.

You can click on the above video to watch a walkthrough of creating an account on GitHub and later of contributing to this project.

Create an account

To create a GitHub account, navigate to and fill in a valid username, email address, and password. For a username, you may want to think about whether you want a name that represents your name, or a more anonymous one. You may want to click off the email marketing box. You should also verify your account.

GitHub provides additional documentation on signing up for an account. You'll be using a free personal account to work with GitHub. Most of our work will be in public respositories, but if you are doing research that you would like to be kept private, you will also be able to set up private repositories under this account.

If you are not logged in at this point, you can navigate to the login page. You may also consider securing your account with two-factor authentication (2FA).

Download GitHub Desktop

Next, you should download and install GitHub Desktop. You can navigate to and a button for your current operating system should display automatically on the page. Once it is downloaded, you should be able to connect your GitHub account to the program.

We will be walking through how to set up and use GitHub Desktop effectively. Using this application abstracts away many of the challenges with command-line Git, but we will also discuss that in a future session.

If you need help with installing GitHub Desktop, you can review the official Installing and configuring guide.

Once GitHub Desktop is installed, please open the program and verify it's set up correctly by cloning this repository.

Clone this repository

You can either clone the repository directly from your GitHub Desktop application by following the Cloning and forking repositories from GitHub Desktop documentation, or you can navigate to the root directory of this repository ( and click the green Code button and select Open with GitHub Desktop in the dropdown menu.

GitHub Desktop should install a local copy of this repository to your machine, and you should now have access to it in GitHub Desktop. This means you can contribute to this repo or modify it for alternate use.