GitHub Brings Electron to Desktop, Updates Atom

GitHub Offices in San Francsico

GitHub offices in San Francisco.

GitHub is changing things up for desktop users. New betas of its popular Windows and Mac clients are now available, and its Atom-integrated developer environment (IDE) works better with the service.

This change revolves around Electron, GitHub’s popular web technology. Atom, built on Electron, now has integrated Git and GitHub functionality. “Since its 1.0 release in 2015, Atom has grown to 2.1 million active users,” read the firm’s blog posting on the matter. “Integrating Git brings together two essential parts of many developers’ workflows, reducing the need to drop to the command line or another GUI application and helping them stay in the flow longer.”

A new desktop beta client brings a bit of ubiquity to the open source workflow. While Github tells Dice it will still make its desktop clients feel native by design, Electron adds a dash of web tech. Rather than use Electron as a ‘shell’ for a web version, as some other desktop apps do for their services, the company is considering its steps a bit more carefully.

GitHub Desktop and Atom IDE

Desktop and Atom IDE

GitHub tells Dice it has analyzed how developers use its service, and the desktop clients will be a representation of that knowledge. Electron will make features such as opening a repo on the desktop much more responsive.

Electron also lets the company iterate faster. With native Windows and Mac clients, it had two teams with disparate concerns trying to build the same service. Electron simplifies the underlying technology while still allowing GitHub to design for a native environment. It’s the same codebase as the web version of GitHub.

GitHub desires to offer developers a service that makes their workflow easier. Electron allows devs to dip and dive between the web and native without missing a beat, and without having to fuss with the command line.

Atom’s new GitHub features will arrive via an update, available today. Due to its entirely new codebase, the desktop clients require a completely new app – and separate download. If GitHub is right, though, a small hiccup now will be worth the UX gains long-term.

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