How to use Git and GitHub for Microsoft development

Microsoft’s development tools offer many ways to work with Git source control, from plug-ins to direct integration

Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub is complete, and former Xamarin CEO Nat Friedman is now in charge of the cloud code management service. It wasn’t a surprising acquisition: Over the last few years, Microsoft’s own development processes have taken a deeper and deeper dependency on Git and GitHub. And GitHub’s own management issues made it hard for the company to move forward, and after a short bidding war Microsoft stepped up to take over.

You only have to look at GitHub’s annual State of the Octoverse report to see how important it is to Microsoft. In the Top 10 projects three are key Microsoft tools, and three more are important open source projects that are used across Microsoft platforms. Microsoft is also the largest commercial contributor to open source projects hosted on GitHub, with more than 7,700 commits in the last year.

Projects like .Net Core, PowerShell Core, F#, C#, the Roslyn compiler, Visual Studio Code, and TypeScript are hosted on GitHub, with open design and development, and with significant third-party input. It’s also the back end behind Microsoft’s new Docs documentation service, with pull requests available for any documentation. Even Windows uses Git, though it’s on private internal repositories using Microsoft’s Virtual File System for Git to handle the sheer scale of its code base, downloading only assets that are needed rather than an entire repository.

Git in Visual Studio Code

With Git and GitHub everywhere at Microsoft, it’s also built into Microsoft’s developer tools and into how developers build apps on Windows and for Azure. When you install a new copy of Visual Studio Code, it encourages you to download and install the Windows Git client, so you can connect to any Git-based repository, whether you’re using GVFS, using a local Git install, or have an account on GitHub, GitLab, or any other cloud-hosted Git-based service.

The Git Windows client is a command-line tool. Available in 32- and 64-bit versions, it’s a simple way of integrating Git functionality into Windows and into Windows developer tools. Installing it is easy enough, with Windows Explorer integration for its own Bash-based shell and in Windows’s own command line. If you haven’t installed Visual Studio Code, it’s a download option from the Git Windows installer, and it can be set up as the default editor for Git.

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