Your first pull request

I do a lot of open source work, and it’s always great to see new people get involved! Sometimes, Open Source can be intimidating, though. Like many things, it’s easy once you’ve done it a few times, but that first time is the hardest. Today, I’d like to show you the simplest pull request you can possibly make: a spelling fix!

Let’s say that you’re reading Ruby in 100 minutes, and you find a spelling error. We link to the GitHub page of all of our tutorials at the top, like this:

submit to github

If you click on that link, you’ll be taken to the source for Ruby in 100 minutes on GitHub, and then you can click the edit button:

edit button

This button is your best friend when it comes to little pull requests. It means that you don’t need to open a terminal and use git itself. You can do it all within GitHub!

This link brings up the in-browser editor:

github editor

You can make whatever change is neccesary, and then fill out the two fields at the bottom:

propose changes

The first field is a summary: describe the change in as few words as possible. Think about how you’d tweet it. ;). The second field is a more extended description: don’t be shy, type a bunch! These two messages will be saved into the repository forever, so a good explanation can help someone in the future understand why a change was made.

After you click the ‘Propose file change’ button, you’ll see a page like this:

send pull request

This will automatically fill in information from the previous screen, but you can add some if you’d like. For example, you might type something about how you’re looking for feedback on these changes, or maybe mention someone on GitHub who might want to give some input into the change.

After you click that big green button, you’re all done! You should have a brand new shiny pull request, like this one. The project maintainer will check out your change, and either merge it or give you some feedback on what needs to be done.

That’s it! For little changes, GitHub’s interface is super useful, and it’s also simple enough that anyone can help out with a project, even if they’ve never used git before.

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