GitHub Replaces Copy And Paste With ZeroClipboard

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No more copy and paste — GitHub has launched a new feature today called ZeroClipboard, a library for copying text to the clipboard that uses an invisible Adobe Flash movie through a JavaScript interface.

The capability to copy long lines of text and Secure Hash Algorithms  (SHAs) to a clipboard has been a feature on GitHub since 2009:

clippy

With ZeroClipbard, GitHub says it is making it easier to integrate the clipboard function with the rest of the site. The advantage comes in the ability for GitHub to create a button that it can put anywhere on the site.

copytoclipboard

According to the GitHub blog, the company is upgrading all the clipboard buttons to ZeroClipboard:

With ZeroClipboard we can glue the flash object (currently the only reliable way to put data in the clipboard) to any dom element we want, leaving the styling up to us.

GitHub is such an interesting service. I ran across a blog post that Co-Founder Tom Preston-Warner wrote after the company’s first year that gives some insight into how the company is constantly working to abstract the complexity of Git. When he and Chris Wanstrath started the project, Git was still in its infancy, largely unknown as a version-control system. Preston-Warner said the only option to work on code in a distributed way was to set up user accounts on Unix machines and use that as an ad-hoc solution.

GitHub was developed to make Git usable at scale. The challenge has always been to abstract the complexity so developers can share code with the community. ZeroClipboard represents that continued effort to make the service a bit more accessible.