GitHub, the source code hosting and collaboration service, has been growing like gangbusters. The site now has over 1.6 million registered developers, hosting over 2.8 million repositories on everything from jQuery and Ruby on Rails to node.js and Redis. At the outset, Github was just a side project, a tool to make developers’ lives easier (its first slogan: “Git hosting: No longer a pain in the ass.”) Github is still a boot-strapped operation, but as both its user base and its own hacker collective (now at 73 strong) have grown, there has been an increasing demand for tools that fall outside Apple’s domain.
Today, about 50 percent of GitHub’s traffic comes from Windows users, and, as a result, the startup has finally heeded demand and is now officially bringing the party to Windows, launching a desktop app to address the challenges of developing on Windows and to make it easy for Windows developers to collaborate in open-source and private repositories.
GitHub released a similarly-targeted Mac client last year, which has since seen wide adoption. However, as popular as Apple has become, the majority of enterprise development still takes place in a Windows environment. As a result, GitHub has been looking to make its platform more appealing to corporate developers and enterprise, and its new Windows app intends to do just that.
Developing in private or open-source for Windows has lagged behind in terms of adoption among developers because they’ve lacked a full toolset for project collaboration, GitHub CTO Tom Preston-Werner says, so, with its new Windows client, the startup just made it easier to get up and running using Git and GitHub on Windows machines.
GitHub for Windows is a native app that runs on Windows XP, Vista, 7 and even the pre-release Windows 8, and includes a complete installation of msysGit. The app syncs users’ code to the cloud and allows developers to clone their repositories right from the app or directly from GitHub.com with its new “Clone in Windows” button.
Of course, anyone who’s been following GitHub’s progress will notice that it took the team more than a few days to finally release its Windows client. As one might expect, the reason for this was, besides a need to tear down development hurdles for Windows developers, that the team wanted to create an app (and a toolset) they would actually use themselves. In order words, to build a Windows app by Windows developers — for Windows developers.
To do that, GitHub has been amassing a pretty serious team of developers who collectively — aside from having cache in the community — own quite a bit of experience developing on and for Windows. For starters, GitHub brought on Phil Haack and Paul Betts, both of whom left Microsoft to join GitHub to help ship the app.
Before GitHub, Haack led the development of both ASP.NET MVC and NuGet, among other things, during his four-plus year stint as a senior program manager at Microsoft. Paul Betts joined Github following a four-year run at Microsoft, where he worked on Vista, and created development tools, among other things.
Developing tools that are useful to Windows developers right out of the box is essential to the success of GitHub. Of course, most big companies are still hesitant to put their code in the cloud, and although the startup puts most of its focus on open source project hosting, it’s free. The company makes its money off of its private repositories, and so better tools for companies and corporate developers could mean a significant boost in revenue for GitHub.
Of course, it’s also for the love of a challenge.
For more, find GitHub’s announcement here.