GitHub Enterprise 2.8 adds new workflow options

With in-line code reviews and direct support for Jupyter notebooks, GitHub Enterprise widens the communication path for project workflows

GitHub Enterprise 2.8 adds new workflow options
Credit: flickr/Joe Futrelle

The big changes rolled out for GitHub Enterprise 2.8 may seem familiar, but don't say GitHub is running out of ideas. Instead, the company is adding tools to GitHub Enterprise that enterprises may already know, rather than expand functionality exclusive to GitHub.

Some new pieces, like the Reviews or Projects functions, will likely draw users because of their tight integration with the product or because they provide the equivalent of a third-party option. But others, like Jupyter support, appeal because they open up GitHub Enterprise to use cases that didn’t exist before or would have been difficult to implement.

Comment cleanup

GitHub has long been organized around Git's metaphors, which have often required circuitous discussions. The new Reviews feature is meant to add more flexibility to comments for pull requests—for instance, being able to annotate specific lines of code or have discussions around them.

clipboard02 GitHub

Reviews in GitHub Enterprise allows comments to be attached to specific lines of code, rather than entire commits, for more granular discussions.

It seems GitHub is also trying to prevent these new features from becoming new sources of aggravation. Example: When a code review is submitted for approval, inline comments are bundled into a single notification to the approver. The idea is to keep people from being bombarded with notifications for every inline comment.

Cards on the table

GitHub rolled out Projects, another new 2.8 feature, as part of its public version earlier this year, but it’s only now coming to GitHub Enterprise. Projects provides card-based project management boards for repositories, and from what’s we can see in GitHub’s short demo video, it works in a manner that should be familiar to Trello users.

The main difference is that cards can be created directly from GitHub objects—pull requests, issues, notes, and so on—but at the same time remain distinct from them. Thus, according to GitHub, “you can capture every early idea that comes up as part of your standup or team sync, without polluting your list of issues.”

Projects also competes with a few third-party initiatives that might already have a leg up with enterprises, such as Microsoft Visual Studio Team Services. Another contender, ZenHub, offers similar features for GitHub and recently started providing a free tier for small teams.

Notebooks in the repo

A third major new feature, with little outside competition, allows Jupyter notebooks to be rendered in the browser when they’re added to a GitHub repository. In many respects, this seems to have the most untapped possibilities.

Data science applications comprise a big part of Jupyter’s use cases, but this feature can also be employed for tasks more relevant to software development—for example, provide data visualizations for application performance profiles.

The result is doubly rewarding: It expands the scope of Jupyter in organizations that use GitHub, as well as GitHub’s role in a Jupyter-powered groups. Plus, organizations that didn’t have as much incentive to make Jupyter part of their development process now have one fewer excuse to attempt it.

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