Github Development

How to set up Github Desktop on macOS

The easiest way to make changes in your source code is by using Github Desktop. It brings all of git’s functionalities and pairs it with a visually easy interface.

First, you have to install the Github Desktop App, available at the following link:

Once you have installed the app, sign in into your Github account, if you already have one, or skip the first step. Next, you have to configure Git with your name and mail, and then the app is ready to use, and should look like in the figure below.


How to set up SSH Keys

In order to clone your code from git, you need to create a SSH key pair.

A common transport protocol for Git is over SSH. This protocol consists of a SSH key pair which includes a public key and a private key.

1. Create a SSH key pair

In order to create a SSH key pair, you need to open the terminal, and run the commands listed below.


This command will require you to fill the next fields:

  • Enter file in which to save the key (/home/<user_name>/.ssh/id_rsa)

This means that if you leave this field empty and simply press ENTER, it will save the private key as id_rsa and the public key as in the /home/<user_name>/.ssh/ directory.

  • Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase)
  • Enter same passphrase again
cat ~/.ssh/

This command will display the public key in the command line, from where you can copy it. An example of a public key can be seen below.


2. Introduce your SSH key to our Dashboard in the SSH Keys Section

You need to upload the public key in our Dashboard in the SSH Keys Section. The private key needs to be stored and handled carefully, and no copies of the private key should be distributed.

Go to, as seen below.

Here you need to complete the following fields:

  • Label: set a label for your key
  • Public Key: here you need to paste the public key copied from the terminal


How to clone your code locally

  • Your source code is stored on a git repository that has the name of your instance.
  • Go to the Access Section on our Dashboard (as seen below):<instance_name>/access/git and copy the URL from which you will download your source code, which should be something like: ssh://<instance_name>.git.

(Don’t forget to replace <instance_name> with the name of the instance for which you want to clone the source code)


  • On GitHub Desktop, press the Clone a repository button and paste the selected URL in the window that opens (as shown below).

You also need to select a Local Path towards the directory where your source code will be cloned. Be aware that the directory must be a new one.

In the example shown below, the default Local Path is /Users/ioana/Documents/GitHub, in which we need to add the directory to be created, for instance: /Users/ioana/Documents/GitHub/ioana.

Thus, my source code will be stored in the directory ioana, which is the name of my instance. It’s not a requirement to name your local folder after your instance, but it’s a good practice.

Press the Clone button and you’ll see the source code being cloned, and after this is done, you can see the GitHub Desktop application interface.


How to commit and push changes

The whole point of git is to keep a record of all the changes that have been made in the code. To do that, there are two main commands: Commit to master and Push to origin.

A commit records changes to the repository, while a push updates remote references along with associated objects. Thus, the first one is used in connection with your local repository, while the latter is used to interact with a remote repository (in our case, your remote source code).

The red line has a - sign in front of the code which highlights the removal of the line, whereas the green code lines have a + sign, meaning an addition of the line.

In order to do commit your changes, you have to select the modified files, write a summary, and press the Commit to master button. There is the possibility to undo the commit by pressing the Undo button.


Next, your commit will appear in the History section, as seen below. This section shows the history of all the commits that have been made, along with detailed information like the author, the date a commit has been made, and the changes.


The commit was made locally. In order to upload it to your site’s source code you have to press Push to origin so that the changes will be pushed to the remote repository.

In case that there are multiple people working on the same project, there is a high chance that changes were made on the server that you don’t yet have. To syncronize the code, use the Fetch origin command. This command pulls your code from our server.

This command transforms into a Push origin command as soon as you have made some local commits. To push these commits on origin (which is the server) means to upload them to the server. Without doing that, they remain local on your computer.

Current Repository vs Current Branch

Git stores information in repositories, which contain the commits that were made, and their references, called heads. At Presslabs, you have a repository for your production site, and in case you have a dev-site, a corresponding repository.

Here, you can see the current repository, and all the things you do in the interface are correlated to this repository. Clicking the arrow in this field will open a panel with all your local repositories, and you have the possibility of choosing another one (as shown below).


A branch is a development environment. The master branch contains your site’s source code. You have the possibility to create branches that converge from the master branch. It is recommended that when making changes in code, to create a new branch, in order not to mess with the production (live) site.

The current branch when you clone a repository, is the master branch, and all your commits will be made from this selected branch, as shown below.


To create a new branch, press the New button, and enter a name for your new branch. Also, you can simply switch between branches with a simple click. However, if you create a new branch and you want to push the modifications from that branch, you need to inform the Presslabs Support Team so we can set the remote repository of your site to follow the new branch. Otherwise, any modification you make on that new branch will not be pushed to the remote repository’s master branch, which means your changes will not be implemented on your site.