Whatever a developer’s educational background, they likely have deployed their project on GitHub. It’s the place to look at and contribute to code for millions of open-source projects, sharing your knowledge while learning best practices and discovering how to solve tricky problems.
As KK Kumar, Director of Engineering at GitHub explained:
“GitHub is able to make anyone a developer. You can develop anything and have an impact on the world by just creating an open source library that’s used by hundreds of thousands of people. And that’s so exciting.”
On the latest episode of our podcast, Decoded, we spoke to Kumar to learn more about the role GitHub plays for both open source and enterprise developers, and why this quirky company is so loved by the developer community.
Open Source for All
GitHub started as a version-control management tool that enables teams of developers to share and collaborate on code. By forking a project, developers can add changes to code, discuss revisions, and contribute new ideas without impacting the main project. These revisions can then be reviewed and implemented back into the main code base without concern that the new code will break anything.
The ability to experiment and potentially contribute to larger open source projects is what makes GitHub so beloved by developers worldwide.
“When I started, I wasn't an iOS developer or an Android developer, but I tried and dabbled in some of that stuff. And the amount I learned from just looking at other apps that were built and were available on GitHub, I was able to pick up a lot of things.”
At the same time, GitHub is also a critical tool for managing the needs of today’s enterprise development teams. As more and more developers are working temporarily or permanently from home, GitHub provides a singular resource for services, security, and automation.
“When people think of GitHub, they usually think open source. They think that code is available for everybody. That’s not the only case. What’s special about the enterprise piece is that there’s security, there’s privacy, there’s firewall systems to enable enterprise customers to be safe and careful about their code.”
By focusing on building tools for developers — be it the first-time student, the open source veteran, or the enterprise user — GitHub provides a rising tide of resources that elevates everyone’s capabilities.
“There isn't a single developer on my team, even though they work on enterprise tools, that thinks, ‘This is only for enterprise.’ These are the offerings that we’re empowering any developer to use and that are the same for everyone.”
Building a Developer-First Community
When developers build tools for other developers, the pressure is on to deliver the best products possible. This is especially true for GitHub, which uses its own products for development. This gives GitHub the unique customer insight it needs when developing its roadmap. In addition to building products that solve its own problems, GitHub also works hard to solve the problems of its customers.
“We are so customer-minded. We identify large customers, small customers, open source developers, and test things out. There are two things we always ask: What’s the impact on our metrics that we track, which is the number of developers we’re impacting, and what’s the utility for our developer community?”
By creating a culture that solves problems for all developers, Kumar says that GitHub is able to seamlessly serve everyone.
“Within GitHub, the developers on our teams are open source developers, but we also have people with enterprise experience. In any decision-making when we’re building tools or services, the discussions that happen include all perspectives. Everybody at GitHub is building for the developer community, not for one slice or another.
I think at the end of the day, if GitHub represents the entire developer community, we’re able to build better for that community. It makes my heart bigger to think about how we’re building this product and creating this interconnected community of developers trying to do something for the world.”
Check out this week’s Decoded podcast to hear the full interview with KK Kumar to learn how GitHub handles technical debt, why the company prioritizes its quirky internal culture, and more. Listen and subscribe to future episodes.