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For FORK'S sake: GitHub checks out Windows client

The rise and rise of Torvalds' tool

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Open ... and Shut Just two years ago, Git barely eked out a mention in Forrester's analysis of the software configuration management (or source code management) market, despite a clear trend toward open-source SCM tools. Now Git owns 27.6 per cent of the SCM market, according to a recent Eclipse Foundation survey, with Subversion apparently in terminal decline. Git's success, long driven by its embrace of the open-source ethos of forking, is now set to hit overdrive as it has broadened its appeal beyond command-line-loving elites to Windows developers.

In other words, for those who pooh-poohed the rise of Git and GitHub, it's time to wake up.

Git has been on a torrid growth spurt. In this same survey Git collected 6.8 per cent of the SCM market in 2010 and ramped to 12.8 per cent in 2011. Some Subversion or IBM Rational devotees have attempted to explain away Git's rise as an open-source hobbyist phenomenon. But at 27 per cent market share, that claim is no longer credible.

Which isn't to say that GitHub, the most popular host for Git, couldn't do more to appeal to enterprise developers. And so last week the company announced that it is releasing a Windows app to make Git easy for Windows developers. As GitHub co-founder Chris Wanstrath notes, enterprise developers "want to use GitHub, but they’re having a hard time doing so".

Enter GitHub for Windows.

It's arguably one of the key components that has been missing from GitHub's arsenal: a Windows-friendly way to tap into the power of Git. As much as Git has been the SCM tool of choice for elite developers, it has also caused no shortage of ill-will from developers who feel they've been bullied into using it. Git gets high marks for its commitment to the cardinal rule of open source: the right to fork. It gets low marks for ease of use and polish. GitHub has made Git significantly easier to use, as Git creator Linus Torvalds has said, but there's still a lot of work to do.

By embracing Windows GitHub may have gone a long way toward getting that work done. No more command line. Enter the graphical user interface. Windows love everywhere.

Given that 56 per cent of Microsoft Azure's open-source cloud projects are already hosted on GitHub, according to new Black Duck research, there's clearly an overlap between Microsoft's world and GitHub. Arguably this move by GitHub will only enhance it, taking GitHub even deeper into the enterprise.

GitHub took off because it makes code forking so easy, as Sean Kerner, senior editor for InternetNews.com, pointed out to me on Twitter. This has made GitHub a hugely strategic web property, given its central role in aggregating developers, and has put the company in a position to turn a profit on millions of dollars in revenue each year, and earn the interest of and cash from one of the industry's premier venture capitalists.

Now it's time for GitHub to become easy to use, and thereby attract a new breed of enterprise developer. It's an exceptionally smart move by an impressive company. It may well lead to another 100 per cent boost in SCM market share by 2013. One would be foolish to bet against it. ®

Matt Asay is senior vice president of business development at Nodeable, offering systems management for managing and analysing cloud-based data. He was formerly SVP of biz dev at HTML5 start-up Strobe and chief operating officer of Ubuntu commercial operation Canonical. With more than a decade spent in open source, Asay served as Alfresco's general manager for the Americas and vice president of business development, and he helped put Novell on its open source track. Asay is an emeritus board member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI). His column, Open...and Shut, appears three times a week on The Register.

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