Make a GitHub account

If you don't have a GitHub account, you'll need to create one first at (the free version will be fine). Then go to

The template we're going to base a new project on, API Horoscope, is made up of 8 files (one of them is not included on GitHub. I'll explain why further down).

  • is a file that most GitHub repos have. It describes what the project does and how to use it.
  • Gemfile is a list of external libraries (gems) we will be using in this project. We'll talk about what each of these 4 gems will be used for in a later chapter.
  • Gemfile.lock is a snapshot of the versions of the gems our project uses. You can read more about Gemfile and Gemfile.lock here.
  • horoscope.rb handles all of the backend logic of our project. It decides what text will go into the horoscope message.
  • style.css (in the public directory) controls the colors and fonts used in this project. Feel free to change this if you aren't a big fan of purple 🙂
  • index.erb (in the views directory) defines the visual contents of project. Right now this is just a box with a horoscope message and a "Try Again" link that refreshes the page.
  • layout.erb (also in the views directory) defines the overall layout of the page. You won't need to change this at all.
  • Finally, .env will hold our authentication secrets which we'll cover in the section about environment variables. .env is not included in the template repo since we don't want to make our authentication info publicly accessible.

What did we just do?

GitHub is a service that allows us to share projects with others. It uses Git, a program for keeping track of changes to a project. There's nothing about Git or GitHub that's specific to programming. You could use it to keep track of changes to a novel or any other project you might want to share with other people, as long as it can be represented as a group of files. For this tutorial, we're going to be taking "api-horoscope," a basic Sinatra app that's hosted on GitHub, copying it, and adding two API integrations to it.

Git and GitHub are very complex and have a lot of different features that we won't be covering in this tutorial. If you're interested in getting started with Git and GitHub, I highly recommend the Don't Be Afraid to Commit tutorial.

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