Top 10 Pro ed tips

Fuzzy file finder

I think I was working at GitHub for over a year before I discovered that we had a fuzzy file finder. Press t in any repository to access it and start typing the name of the file you want to find. I used to find it invaluable jumping into new Rails projects and quickly looking for schema.rb to get a feel for the app.

Browse files and directories with ease

Speaking of searching for files, this great browser extension called Octotree helps you navigate directories, and open files with a familiar tree-like structure. Bonus points: It works with GitHub Enterprise 🙌 Fun fact: I reached out to the author about supporting GitHub Enterprise a few years ago. If you’re building a browser extension for GitHub, and want to make sure it works for GitHub Enterprise, you can get a developer license by joining the GitHub Developer Program.

Be alerted to new notifications

On the topic of browser extensions, this project from @sindresorhus tells you exactly how many GitHub notifications are waiting with an unobtrusive icon on your toolbar. You can enable Desktop notifications too if that’s your jam. It also works with GitHub Enterprise. All you have to do is change the API endpoint to match your instance’s URL (for example,

Make your @mentions stand out

No matter how many elaborate email or notification filters you set up, there’s always one that slips through the cracks. Mention Highlighter, created by my buddy @benbalter, highlights all references to my name and wow, do they jump out! Even in a wall of text or when I’m quickly skimming comments, I’m able to see any mentions directed to me.

Linking to code snippets

This isn’t so much of a secret, but it’s definitely not known by everyone, and occasionally blows minds. You can link to specific lines of code by clicking the line number when you’re viewing a file. By default, the line number (for example, #L1337) is appended to the URL, which will always take you directly to that line. If that file is edited, deleted, or renamed, unfortunately the link will no longer work as expected. You can press y or  click Copy permalink to generate the canonical URL that will always work. You can also link to a line number range by holding down SHIFT and selecting the starting and ending lines. Added bonus: If you add a code snippet link in a GitHub comment, a nice visualization of the code appears. I recall that this feature was originally built by a few interns several years ago. If you like hacking on fun stuff like this, consider applying to our internship program!

Must-have Markdown formatting tips

GitHub Flavored Markdown is great for vanilla formatting of text and basic tables, but sometimes you need to get creative to make it do what you want.

URL-hacking topics

One of my guilty pleasures is looking for new projects on GitHub tagged with #game, and playing testing them, or cloning them to “change stuff and see what happens”. It’s a great activity for coffee breaks or boring Sunday afternoons. Our UI exposes ways for you to filter by a single topic and language (for example, searching for all repositories categorized as #game written in JavaScript). The only way to view the search results for the combination of two topics is through a bit of URL hacking. Simply append a ?q=[TOPIC] to the topic URL to combine the results of two topics. Some examples:

  • All repositories tagged with #covid-19 and #visualization:
  • All repositories tagged with #chrome-extension and #github:
  • All repositories tagged with #unity and #shader:
  • All repositories tagged with #minecraft and #mod: Did you know: Applying topics to your repositories helps people discover them, and even contribute to them? It’s as simple as clicking a button and typing a few keywords related to your project’s purpose and subject area:

The Best Coffee You Ever Drank for Pennies a Cup

The morning cup of coffee is something many people cannot give up. I understand. Office coffee can be nasty so stopping at Starbucks along the way has become a routine. At 5 bucks a cup (price depends on geographic location) that adds up over a year. You can have coffee equal in quality or better with the right coffee machine and coffee beans. Many years ago I wrote a series of short articles on getting a really good cup (or pot) of coffee for a fraction of the price at a coffee house. Fill your coffee mug before you head out the door and you keep $1,825 in your pocket each year, assuming you only imbibe with one cup per day. Here is the list of articles I published on coffee: Gourmet Coffee for Less Kona Coffee: The Drink of Heaven The Best Coffee Machines Choosing the Best Brew Coffee Machine

Trains, Planes & Automobiles

I never saw the movie, but the title is catchy. This tip is a biggie. So big that it can single handedly make you rich! I know, I know. There are bloggers that say you should never drive. Bike and walk everywhere. Awesome idea, but not for everyone. Your car can drain your finances more than any other purchase! It is a depreciating asset. The speed at which it travels to zero is determined by make, model and condition. But make no mistake; it will end up in the scrapyard like every other vehicle ever made. People all too often focus on the depreciation of an automobile. There is another vehicle cost that digs nearly as deep: transaction costs. I have only owned 3 cars in my life and I’m on the wrong side of 50. I tend to buy used vehicles and keep them for 20 years. (Most vehicles come to their natural life expectancy around 20 years.) Depreciation still hurts. Fortunately, I don’t have that accelerated depreciation newer vehicles suffer. The best news is that I have few transaction costs because I don’t do a lot of transacting. Every time you buy a car the state wants a piece of the action. With the exception of 5 states (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon) you will also pay a sales tax. Used car prices are out of line as I write this. I probably would buy a new car if I was in the market at this time. Regardless, I buy a vehicle when my current vehicle is close to the grave and then keep it for a really long time. This one tip can save you enough to fund your retirement account if you funneled all those payments you didn’t have to make. And you would trade title, transfer and sales taxes for a tax deduction! Easy choice, I think.

Dark theme

For the l33t h4x0rs amongst you, the unofficial GitHub Dark Theme browser extension might be of interest. It works with Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari, plus we finally fixed that favicon issue. Perfect for those late-night hacking sessions. 😎 Did you know: Most software engineers prefer to use dark mode because, wait for it… light attracts more bugs. </dad_joke>