In January, GitHub Classroom will begin a public beta that will change the way student repositories are created from starter code repositories. Currently, starter code repositories must be template repositories, and GitHub Classroom creates a repository from a template for each student repository. After the change, student repositories will be created by forking the starter code repository.
This change allows us to enable one of our most-requested features from teachers: the ability to change starter code after an assignment has been accepted by students. Students will be able to sync their assignment repository with the upstream starter code, allowing teachers to correct starter code mistakes or add additional content after the assignment has gone live to students.
Because there are important differences between creating a repository from a template and forking a repository, there will be important changes in behavior for both new and existing assignments in GitHub Classroom. We recommend reviewing the following new behaviors and making adjustments to your assignments if necessary.
- All new accepted assignments will be forks, including existing assignments that were created with a template repository. Existing assignment repositories will not be changed, so they will not be able to sync changes from upstream.
- Starter code assignments cannot be empty. If you are using a starter code repository without any commits, students will not be able to accept your assignment. GitHub Classroom will enforce this requirement for new assignments, but you will need to manually create an initial commit to existing empty starter code repositories in order for students to accept assignments.
- Starter code commits will no longer be automatically squashed in student repos. A new fork includes the entire commit history of the parent repository, while a repository created from a template starts with a single commit. This can affect teachers who may have assignment solutions in the commit history of the starter code. We recommend using Git on the command line or GitHub Desktop to squash commits of starter code repositories prior to distributing assignments to students if you previously had solutions filled-in the starter code.
- Student repository visibility will be inherited from the starter code repository. Forks of public repositories cannot be made private on GitHub. As a result, if you wish to use a public template repository as starter code for an assignment where student repositories should remain private, we recommend creating a new repository from the public template and setting it to private prior to using it as starter code in a GitHub Classroom assignment.
Be on the lookout for another Changelog post when the public beta begins. Join the conversation in our Education community discussions for further clarifications.