GitHub has now made its core features free to all users, which is a huge deal for startups and teams wrestling with very limited budgets. The change is reportedly permanent.
“Until now, if your organization wanted to use GitHub for private development, you had to subscribe to one of our paid plans. But every developer on earth should have access to GitHub,” read GitHub’s blog posting on the matter. “This means teams can now manage their work together in one place: CI/CD, project management, code review, packages, and more. We want everyone to be able to ship great software on the platform developers love.”
Not only can those teams set up unlimited private repositories (with an unlimited number of collaborators) for free; there’s also access to GitHub community support, 2,000 free “Actions minutes” for private repositories (Actions is GitHub’s continuous integration/continuous delivery functionality), and the ability to add unlimited collaborators.
It’s important not to understate the importance of GitHub Actions, which is designed to make it easier for developers to manage repositories, testing, and the overall development workflow. For example, a developer could attach a GitHub Action for testing to their repo in order to automate code review, sparing them from having to write their own test. Actions can also be linked together into an automated workflow, theoretically saving teams lots of time (the feature supports a variety of languages and frameworks, including Python, Android, and iOS).
A few years back, Sam Lambert, who was then GitHub’s Head of Platform, told Dice that Actions was the “biggest” product the company had launched in quite some time, automating vast swaths of the development process. While GitHub hasn’t been public about overall statistics for Actions, offering 2,000 “minutes” free for private repositories will no doubt elevate adoption rates.
In addition to making its core features free, GitHub is also lowering the price of its paid Team plan to $4 per month, down from $9. In exchange for that monthly fee, teams can access advanced, enterprise-centric features such as SAML.
The timing of GitHub’s announcement is particularly auspicious, as the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing many companies and startups to cut back on their budgets, even for relatively small budget-line items. No doubt these moves will encourage some teams to utilize GitHub more, which will only boost the site’s engagement and numbers in the long run.
If you’re new to software development, GitHub is well worth checking out. It’s a great place to find open-source projects to participate in, as well as useful advice for solving some of the thorniest of problems. GitHub’s annual State of the Octoverse report is always worth checking out, if only because it gives you an idea of what’s trending on both the site and the tech industry as a whole.