GitHub as a Content Management System

GitHub is a system that was built in 2005 for developers to keep track of the different changes and versions of their code. The thing is, it’s actually a very good tool for writers as well. Rather than using the traditional “lock and checkout” model that many revision systems utilize where only one person can be modifying a file at a time, GitHub allows for multiple people to be working on a file and then synchronizing their changes with GitHub’s servers. One of the biggest features of the system is a merging utility which makes its best guess (which is often the right one) on how to merge multiple changes together into a file. It doesn’t automatically do this, however, but instead shows you the result of the merge and ask if those are the results that you’re looking for. This is huge for organizations that have lots of people working in tandem on projects both big and small.

GitHub has a couple of paid offerings that provide some great features. They have a $7/month offering which allows you to keep your work privately stored on their servers so that only people you explicitly allow are able to view your work. There is also an enterprise offering which basically gives companies a personal GitHub that is able to be branded as their own website and modified as they see fit. Both of these options ensure that only company employees can see the files on GitHub and work with each other on them.

GitHub is perfect for writers working for tech companies which already employ GitHub or a similar utility for their work. This means that employees there are already used to the workflow that comes with such a system and thus can cost the company less in time and money training employees on a new system. GitHub works well when working on large projects as it prioritizes continuous integration of work. This carries over well into documenting such projects in this source control system as large projects are such that no one person can fully understand the project in its entirety. This means many people can understand the little parts and contribute their intimate knowledge of such parts to the documentation. GitHub is a great system for both programmers and technical writers.

-Jeremy Quinn

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