GitHub Universe liveblog: CEO’s keynote

Beyang Liu

GitHub’s invention — wasn’t invented invented in a vacuum. An evolution of great ideas from the past (like Henry Ford, Isaac Newton, etc.)

GitHub didn't invent the pull request.

So what was the “big idea” for GitHub? It boils down to tools and people. Our key insight was that “developers are people, too.” Developer tools should just get out of your way.


GitHub is about building on those who came before. We’re building on top of the work of Torvalds and Lovelace. But GitHub is more than a company. It’s a community of people building the future of software together.

The theme this year is “continuous improvement.”

Starting with electron. Electron is a platform for building desktop apps with web technologies. 1.0 out in May. Lots of cool apps built with Electron:

  • Pixate
  • Hyperterm
  • Openfin
  • Discog
  • Gitkraken
  • Slack
  • VSCode
  • Atom
  • Facebook Nuclide
  • Wordpress native
  • Basecamp
  • Webtorrent
  • Simple Note
  • Sourcegraph

Electron comes with great dev tools and documentation. Build your next native app using Electron.

His favorite Electron app is Atom — a “text editor for the future.” Programmers like to hack on stuff. In the past, it’s been hard to hack on your editor. Wanstrath used to use Emacs and Vim, but elisp and vimscript are not amenable to hacking. Atom is production grade but also hackable. It’s built in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and 100% open source. 18 million downloads, 1.3 million active users, 4.8k plugins. Some cool plugins: git-time-machine, atom-beautify, activate-power-mode.

Let’s talk about students. When Wanstrath was in college, he torrented a lot of software (“allegedly”). GitHub has a student developer pack, which is a bundle of professional software that students can use.

[Editor’s note: unfortunately, conference WiFi cut out at this part of the talk. We’re trying to get the slides to fill this in.]

There's also GitHub Classroom. GitHub also sponsors Major League Hacking and other hackathons. They’re also partnering with Udacity and Black Girls Code.

Wanstrath hands it off to Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code.

She quotes Common (who’ll be performing tonight at Universe): “Found a purpose why I MC / Inspire a young world to be greater than me.” The one word that pops out at her the most is “inspire.”

They started from humble beginnings 4 years ago with a mission to inspire black and brown girls to learn how to code. By the year 2040, they want to teach 100 million girls to code.

The tech community can only fully realize its potential when there are more seats at the table for women and people of color.

[Editor’s note: WiFi restored]

Now let’s talk about GitHub enterprise. GitHub has always been about people and tools. In the very beginning, they looked at what does a developer do every day.

It’s not an open source/closed sourced world — it’s more nuanced. Some of the biggest companies today are using open source. “The world is much more gray today than black and white.”

GitHub enterprise is an on-prem version of Who’s using GitHub enterprise? NASA, SAP, Mailchimp, and more.

Once upon a time, software just ran on computers. That’s still true, but computers look a lot different today than 10 or 20 years ago.

10,000 people in 2016 made their first public repository, coming from all walks of life, whether students, enterprise developers, or hackers.

Open source projects on GitHub

  • NASA mission control
  • Apollo 11 guidance computer code
  • DOOM (original version)
  • VR frameworks
  • security software
  • data visualization libraries
  • machine learning
  • hacking Minecraft

The White House is using GitHub. Introducing Alvand Salehi.

Integrations roadmap

GitHub has a lot of integrations and are investing in relationships with integration partners to grow the ecosystem. They have a new early access program for key partners to get access to beta, unreleased features.

There's a new GraphQL API, already released to selected integration partners.

GitHub is shipping new authentication features for large companies

  • enforced 2FA
  • SAML

GitHub is authoring new workflow features, too:

  • Issue templates
  • Emojis (1 million thumbs up!)
  • Multiple assignees on issues
  • Saved replies
  • Reorder issues
  • Issue milestones

Announcing today: GitHub Projects. GitHub Issues have traditionally not been enough. Projects introduces a way to organize issues for project and product managers at large companies. They add much needed structure for enterprise-ready collaboration, whether you’re using Agile or whatever project management methodology.

GitHub is also shipping substantial improvements to Pull Requests. The essence of Pull Requests is collaboration — they’re a “great way to collaborate get comments, but not a good way to review code.” They've now added:

  • Collaborative forks
  • Protected branches
  • Update branch
  • Pull request templates
  • Base branch switchers
  • Squash and merge

Today, they’re releasing Code Review on GitHub. You can submit a review as an entire body with approval. No more hundred email notifications. You can have multiple threads on the same line. You can view the entire discussion history. Code Review brings professional grade code review to GitHub.

One more thing — new user profiles:

  • Pinned repositories
  • Private contributions
  • Blocked users list
  • GitHub timeline for your entire history on GitHub from your entire time on GitHub, from your first commit

And one more one more thing — they’re launching education and community forums. This will let them take your feedback seriously and respond to it — doubling down on engaging with community and shipping more awesome stuff.

Thank you to the integration community for making a lot of these new announcements possible

(earlier) The stage is all set for GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath’s opening keynote.

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About the author

Beyang Liu is the CTO and co-founder of Sourcegraph. Beyang studied Computer Science at Stanford, where he published research in probabilistic graphical models and computer vision at the Stanford AI Lab. You can chat with Beyang on Twitter @beyang or our community Discord.

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