GitHub's next big innovations won't come from GitHub

Some of GitHub's best new features could be third-party apps


Flush with a fresh round of funding, GitHub is gearing up for a round of expansion as a business. But how is GitHub -- the service, not the company -- poised to evolve?

By all appearances, it won't be GitHub itself that pioneers novel uses for its service. Instead, third parties will build those services with GitHub in new ways -- not only by back-ending into GitHub, but by transforming GitHub's Web-based user interface as well.

Add-ins, not simply add-ons

ZenHub is one recent example. Its product, now expanding to encompass the on-premises enterprise edition of GitHub, adds collaboration and project management tools directly to the GitHub interface. Kanban-style multirepository task boards, velocity tracking, burndown charts, and other features all show up within GitHub, rather than in a separate application.

 "Our competitors can be integrated with GitHub," said ZenHub co-founder Matthew Butler in a phone call, "but not present within GitHub itself." This also helps, in his view, to make GitHub less intimidating for project managers.