Students learn version control for programming projects at workshop

Jameson Pitts

Students learned how to use software development tools Git and GitHub to control version and file changes in programming projects at a Learning Commons workshop at the Perry-Castañeda Library Wednesday night.

Sam Burns, technology director for the School of Information, led the first half of the workshop, which focused on introducing students to the complex systems. Burns said Git and GitHub enable team members to manage changes to a project, like a more powerful version of Google Docs.

“These tools facilitate open-source development,” Burns said. “Lots of developers around the world can work together without messing up the master version.”

Computer science freshman Eric Liu said he came to learn about Git so he could stay organized in future group projects. 

“I’ll probably be using [Git] this Saturday at the Game Jam,” Liu said. “We spend Saturday and Sunday working with a group of people on a game based on a theme they provide us at the competition.”

Mary Jo Lucas, a 1986 UT graduate who works in the information industry, said she heard about the workshop at a meeting for the organization Women Who Code and decided to attend to learn about new technologies. 

“I mainly do development for financial applications,” Lucas said. “Young guys come in and they already know this stuff, and they don’t have time to show me.”

Burns said working with unfamiliar coding tools like Git can be frustrating, but it only takes practice. 

“The more you do it, the better and easier you’ll be at it,” Burns said. “If you want to just practice with text files, you’ll get a better sense of it.”

The workshop was hosted by a partnership between UT Libraries and the student chapter of the Association for Information Science and Technology and its sister organization, Advocating for Women in Technology.

Kristin Sullivan, graduate student in the School of Information and communications director for both organizations, said she hoped the event would get more people interested in coding. 

“We’re trying to broaden our reach beyond the School of Information,” Sullivan said. “We thought having an event here in the Learning Commons space, outside of the iSchool which is kind of far-removed from campus, would be a good opportunity to bring people out and teach about Git as a digital resource.”