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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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Use Cases For Github's New Direct Upload Feature

GitHub announced today that developers will now be able to upload files to code repositories directly from within the browser. Although most programmers interact with GitHub via the command-line, it might surprise you that this feature did not already exist given that GitHub already allows users to interface via the browser for a variety of tasks. I have outlined four ways users will be able to make immediate use of this new feature.

Quick changes to images and other assets

If a developer has a client who needs a profile picture updated on the team page for the corporate website, it can be a pain to open the project locally and make the changes and commit the code. It will be easier to add the file straight through the browser, making the maintenance experience easier and more pleasant for you. This is especially useful if you are away from your development machine, where making a simple change could be impractacle or impossible.

Adding a blog post to a GitHub Pages website

Developers that host a Jekyll blog on Github you may be interested in crafting a post in your desktop environment and dragging it straight into the browser for immediate publication. This may only a modest upgrade on the experience, but if casual bloggers have learned anything over the years, it is that any friction in the process can be enough to eliminate the motivation to publish.

Non-technical contributions

The divide between technical and non-technical will always be a mushy one, but the learning curve of Git is steep and it does not make sense as a de facto barrier for contributing to a project. Uploading via the browser is an experience most-everyone is familiar with and this will allow more people to collaborate to projects where it makes sense for them to do so.

General File Dumping

Depending on a developer's workflow, dumping files into Github may be easier than using Dropbox or Google Drive. I cannot say whether it is GitHub's intention to become a direct competitor with these other services, but it certainly may be easier for many developers who are already more at home in GitHub's environment. This use case seems to me like the one that could have the most impact if GitHub indeed chooses to encourage this behaviour through future feature decisions.

Github drag and drop flow

File upload in action

This is a net positive

The community has had its share of complaints about GitHub lately, but it is so entrenched in the programming world that moving off of the platform is not practical for most. Because of this co-dependence, the developer community needs to hope that Github is able to bring features that improve the platform in the right ways. And while this is not directly addressing some of the issues, it is an augmentative feature that does not take away from Github's core functionality.

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