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Introducing GitHub, 2nd Edition by Brent Beer

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Chapter 8. Downloading and Working Offline

You may never need to clone (download) a copy of a repository at all. As we’ve seen in this book, you can use the GitHub web interface to view the state of a project, edit content, collaborate with your team, and set up and configure a repository. However, sometimes it’s necessary to clone a repository. In this chapter we’ll look at why you might want to clone a repo and how you would do so using GitHub Desktop. If you’re running Linux, though there are web interfaces out there, you’ll probably be better off just installing Git directly and learning the command-line interface for working with Git repositories—but that’s outside of the scope of this book.

Why Clone a Repository?

There are a number of reasons why you might decide to clone a repository. Some of the most common ones include the following:

Creating a backup
When you clone a repository, it creates a full copy of the project—including all branches, tags, and history—on your computer. Sometimes it’s worth cloning a repository and pulling the changes down regularly just to know that you have a full copy of the project safely on your machine. This does not grab any GitHub-specific items like issues or pull requests, however.
Editing in an IDE or text editor
The web-based interface isn’t as powerful as editing in an IDE (integrated development environment) or your favorite text editor, so if you’re editing content all day, you’re going to want to do that locally on your machine. ...

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