8 (octo!) GitHub Tips

[This article was first published on Maëlle's R blog on Maëlle Salmon's personal website, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers]. (You can report issue about the content on this page here)
Want to share your content on R-bloggers? click here if you have a blog, or here if you don't.

I’m spending quite a lot of my working time on GitHub, so have taken some habits. Maybe some of them can be useful to you!

1: How to get started

I’ve never actually taught git and GitHub, but I like sharing these useful links:

2: Secure your account

Please use a password manager with some sort of cloud backup.

Enable two factor-authentication for your GitHub account. It should not take much time. Make sure you store the recovery keys into your password manager. Also make sure your two factor-authentication app, if that’s an app, has some sort of cloud backup.

If you interact with GitHub programmatically, say with the usethis package, refer to

3: Refine GitHub interface with… Refined GitHub

Refined GitHub is a browser extension that adds nice features such as the default ordering of issues from most recently udpated to least recently updated. It’s quite neat.

4: Make your profile informative

Try to fill your GitHub profile information (and to keep it up-to-date).


5: Handle PR states and suggestions with available features

You can make draft pull requests to indicate they are not ready yet. You can revert a pull request to the draft state. I find this most useful.

In the first comment of a pull request, if you add a line Fix #42 (or some other recognized keyzord), merging the PR will close issue 42. From the issue 42 itself, one will be able to see the PR is “linked” to it.

When reviewing a pull request, in comments you can make actual change suggestions, “commit suggestions” that the receiver can accept with a click. Using this instead of writing something à la tipo -> typo is quite handy. When you are on the receiving end, to incorporate the feedback you can either accept each suggestion individually or batch-accept them, but only from the files tab of the PR, not the main tab.

6: Custom watch repositories

Watching repositories can be very useful: a favorite package of yours, an important dependency of a project of yours, Hacker News Daily Top 10, etc.

When you watch a repository, you get notified of all issues, PRs, discussions, and also see all commits in your timeline. That last part might be a bit too much. Well, you can customize what to watch by configuring your watch settings for an individual repository. I tend to subscribe to all issues, PRs and discussions, which I then tackle from my notifications inbox, one repository at a time.

7: Add your GitHub timeline to your RSS feed reader

At the very bottom of your GitHub timeline there is a link to your RSS feed, “Subscribe to your news feed” (it has a token in it so do not publicize it!). I have added mine to Feedly. Even if GitHub has recently improved the timeline interface, I like it to be grouped with other tech RSS feeds I subscribe to. That might change, though.

8: Subscribe to GitHub blog

I’ve also added GitHub blog to Feedly to be aware of new features in a less random way than on Twitter (I’m actively reducing my dependency on Twitter for crucial information).


In this post I have shared eight tips based on my GitHub usage. Thanks to those who taught me some of these! Do you have some advice for GitHub users?

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: Maëlle's R blog on Maëlle Salmon's personal website.

R-bloggers.com offers daily e-mail updates about R news and tutorials about learning R and many other topics. Click here if you're looking to post or find an R/data-science job.
Want to share your content on R-bloggers? click here if you have a blog, or here if you don't.

Never miss an update!
Subscribe to R-bloggers to receive
e-mails with the latest R posts.
(You will not see this message again.)

Click here to close (This popup will not appear again)