Introducing Experiments, an ongoing research effort from GitHub

Software developers are most productive when software development is inclusive and accessible. At GitHub, we conduct research in machine learning, design, and infrastructure to make sure everyone can do their best work with the next generation of developer tools and workflows.

This research can take considerable time to reach you, our end users, if it reaches you at all. We rigorously evaluate products for stability, performance, and security. And many experiments don’t meet our success criteria for product release, even when they present a path forward for future innovation.

Introducing Experiments

Although we can’t share everything we do, we’ve launched a collection of demonstrations highlighting our most exciting research projects—and the ideas behind them—with Experiments. We hope these will not only give you insight into our research but inspire you to think audaciously about the future of software development.

See our first experiment

For our first demo, we’ve chosen Semantic Code Search. We’ve used machine learning to build semantic representations of code that allow you to use natural language to search for code by intent, rather than just keyword matching. See our blog post for additional detail on how this works.

Semantic Code Search

We’re just getting started, so stay tuned for more examples. If this research excite you as much as they excite us, why not join our team?

What’s next for the EU copyright proposal?

Last week, we put out a call to action leading up to the EU Parliament’s vote on the Copyright Directive. Read on to learn what they decided, how this affects software, and what’s next in the process. (It’s not over.)

What Parliament decided

On September 12, the EU Parliament voted to:

  • Make content-sharing platforms directly liable for copyrighted content that users upload, which could lead to use of upload filters (Article 13)
  • Exclude “open source software developing platforms” from that liability and need for upload filters (Article 2)
  • Allow an exception for text and data mining only by research institutions for scientific purposes on a “non-for-profit” basis, with only an “optional” exception for others (Article 3)
  • Create a new right for press publishers to require a license to use content of news articles except for “mere hyperlinks, which are accompanied by individual words” (Article 11)

What this means for software

If Parliament’s version of the Copyright Directive becomes the law:

  • Sites that host user-generated content may need to filter content that users upload, but “open source software developing platforms” (like GitHub) wouldn’t need to. We supported a broader exclusion for software development platforms, archives, and repositories, as it would have protected more of the software development community. However, Parliament adopted the narrower language. Since elements of software development happen beyond that narrow exclusion, developers would need to consider whether they might be subject to liability for the content they host and resort to measures like filtering.
  • Developers may need licenses to mine content—including for artificial intelligence and machine learning—unless individual EU countries decide to adopt an exception from text and data mining that would cover them. Without a mandatory broader exception, developers would be subject to a patchwork of regulations across different EU countries.
  • Developers who link to news articles may need to pay to use content like article headlines or snippets. It may take a judge to interpret what the phrase “individual words” means exactly in the hyperlinks press exception we called out above. In the meantime, developers would need to be careful about what content they include to describe links.

But remember, Parliament doesn’t have the final word. We still need to keep an eye on the negotiations as they move to the next stage with the Council and Commission—and continue advocating to protect software.

What we can do next

There’s a lot to fix in the current copyright proposal. We’re looking at software because that’s where developers can speak with authority. Our focus now is on the negotiations among Parliament, Council, and the Commission (trilogues) to ensure exclusion for “open source software developing platforms” isn’t only limited to “non-for-profit” platforms. This was our goal back in April too, when both Council and Parliament proposed excluding only “non-for-profit open source software developing platforms.” With your help, we were able to show Parliament why a non-for-profit limitation would undermine their effort to protect software because most open source software development is built on platforms, like GitHub, that aren’t non-for-profit.

Now it’s time to make this clear for the Council. After hearing from developers, Parliament realized it didn’t make sense to limit the software exclusion to only non-for-profit software development platforms. We need to make sure the Council understands this, too. EU developers, contact your Council members and explain why they need to exclude all open source software development platforms from filtering obligations—not only non-for-profit ones—if they want to effectively protect software development in the EU.

Copyright law hasn’t kept up with the digital age, and we support greater copyright reform that protects how software development happens around the world today. But as we’re fixing copyright law, it’s important to make sure that we aren’t actually creating more problems. Although the Copyright Directive may be a step forward, we have to continue advocating for fair and balanced change that protects software—and the economy it powers—in the process.

Introducing the new Premium Support

Introducing the new Premium Support

Whether you use GitHub independently or with a team, we are proud to offer unparalleled support to everyone in our community. Over time we’ve learned that some teams require around-the-clock care and peace of mind that extend beyond our standard support offering. For these customers, we introduced Premium Support at last year’s Universe. Today we’re building on our initial launch and announcing an improved Premium Support program featuring two new plans: Premium and Premium Plus.

Both plans include:

  • 24/7 web and phone support
  • Priority ticket handling
  • Guaranteed initial response times (30 minutes for urgent, four hours for high priority)
  • Access to Premium Content
  • Scheduled health checks

Premium Plus also includes:

  • Named Technical Support Account Manager
  • Monthly administration support hours
  • One virtual training class on Git and GitHub best practices

View the new Premium Support program, or contact us to learn more.

Announcing GitHub Desktop 1.4

Get warned about merge conflicts before you merge

In the past few releases, we’ve been working on ways to simplify collaboration in GitHub Desktop. In 1.2, we introduced the ability to compare one branch to another and merge, then 1.3 came along and we added a handy notification for new changes in your master branch, including the ability to easily bring these changes into your branch. In this 1.4 release, GitHub Desktop provides information about whether or not you’re going to encounter conflicts before merging.

We’ve heard from lots of people that merge conflicts are a particularly frustrating part of collaboration, and it’s helpful to know what you will encounter prior to attempting to merge. This release allows you to make an informed decision about merging with fewer surprises. Will the merge take a single click and be done? Now you’ll know ahead of time:

Merge with conflicts

Will the merge result in a conflict? GitHub Desktop will let you know, along with a sense of how much effort the conflicts might take to resolve:

Merge without conflicts

We’ve heard your feedback, and we thought adding details about merge conflicts would be a great addition to GitHub Desktop. With our upcoming releases, we’ll add more functionality to help you and your team make sound decisions when you encounter a merge conflict. Using GitHub Desktop, you can collaborate with your team more easily—with less overhead.

Preview what’s new in the app

We’re also releasing our first step towards showcasing what’s possible when using GitHub Desktop. In 1.4, we’ve added our release notes to the app to highlight what’s changed since the last release, and to recognize—and thank—our amazing contributors.

Modal with release notes

We’re looking forward to continuing to make GitHub Desktop a valuable and intuitive tool for collaboration (and more!), so stay tuned for even more enhancements.

Try GitHub Desktop

Diversity, inclusion, and belonging at GitHub in 2018

Diversity, inclusion, and belonging at GitHub in 2018 logo

In 2016, we released our first annual Diversity Report. At the time, we were transparent about our journey and our goals for the future. We made a commitment to improve—and today, we’re sharing an update on our progress and our plans for the road ahead.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that each Diversity Report is just a snapshot of our journey. This year, we’ve taken our report to the next level—we’ve expanded the scope of the data and the lens through which we look at diversity, inclusion, and belonging at GitHub. We’ve taken a deeper look into our distributed workforce, analyzed upward mobility across the company, and assessed where our retention strategies have fallen short.

In order to build a product that will be used by future generations of software developers, we must continue to build a company that reflects the world we live in.

Read the report

Reflecting on the results

We’ve seen heartening improvements within some of the data: an increase in the number of our distributed Hubbers, promotion rates among women and men that are about equal (and, if anything, stronger for women), and an increase in black Hubbers who hold leadership positions.

Despite these encouraging results, we also experienced a 4% decrease in the percentage of women and a 1% decrease in the number of underrepresented minorities working across the organization over the past year. While we can’t definitively pinpoint the root cause of these decreases, we have begun to identify systems and programs that will enable all Hubbers to build their careers at GitHub.

Sharing what we built

When we shared our Diversity Report last year, we also launched a new department—Employee Experience and Engagement (EEE)—with a dedicated focus on diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DI&B). As a result, 2018 was a year focused on optimism, transition, and building at GitHub.

We amplified and strengthened our commitment to this work by:

  • Integrating our diversity, inclusion, and belonging strategy into our employee experience programs
  • Building out our DI&B team
  • Formalizing and expanding communities of belonging among employees along various vectors, including locations, demographic backgrounds, interests, and more

We made headway on our DI&B goals in 2018, including the launch of our very first employee resource group (ERG). As our first chartered ERG, the incredible members of the Blacktocats have set a high bar for what an ERG can accomplish at GitHub. They’ve inspired other affinity groups to begin their journey to becoming ERGs: Octoqueer for LGBTQ Hubbers; Adacats (named for Ada Lovelace) for women and non-binary Hubbers; and Latinx Hubbers for Latinx/Hispanic employees.

To further empower our ERGs and their members, our newly formed Inclusion Advisory Council is working to build an open source toolkit to help new groups organize and share best practices within and outside of GitHub.

Mapping the road ahead

Over the next year, we’ll continue to build programs that fit our defined DI&B strategy. We’ve created an apprenticeship program and look forward to welcoming our inaugural cohort this fall. We’ll also strengthen our partnerships with organizations focused on helping people from all backgrounds succeed in tech.

Diversity of experience, background, and identity not only makes us better colleagues, but amplifies our spirit of innovation and our commitment to building the world’s best software platform. We’re working to empower GitHub employees to create, tinker, develop, and bring inspiration to internal and external communities in which everyone can feel welcome.

We’re committed to driving positive change in the coming year and beyond.

Another step closer,

Merritt Quisumbing Anderson's signature

Merritt Quisumbing Anderson VP, Employee Experience & Engagement



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