Coding on GitHub

Status: readable.

These are the things I look for in projects on GitHub.

I also aim to follow these on my own projects.


Always have a README file, even if it is only a single sentence or a list of TODO notes.

If a project does not have a README then I am less likely to read further, because it already feels incomplete.

Project summary

A short description of why someone would want to use this project.

Installation instructions

If installation is a single step, like npm install coffee-script, then that is perfect to include in the README, to show how simple it is.

Otherwise you should add a link to more detailed steps if they are complex.


Include requirements, like Operating System, language and libraries, even if they seem obvious.

Projects using NPM will include a package.json that specifies the requirements, but the README should still state this.


I stopped myself from emphasising that more, but examples are the most important thing for me.

They show me the elegant syntax of your library and help me imagine how I could use it.


Every project should have a license, otherwise it makes it difficult for people to know if they can use the project how they would like.

GitHub have a choose a license site that can help you find one that covers what you want.

I tend to pick the MIT license because it seems to be the most open.


The issue and pull request system on GitHub is great!

A nice feature is by including a CONTRIBUTING file in the root folder, it will be shown above the create issue form.

This is perfect for explaining the format you prefer when specifying issues.

See also