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How to Create And Use GitHub Repository Templates

Introduction

In this guide, I'll be covering how to create and use a GitHub template repository that can be used to create additional repositories from.

The main reason you would use a template repository is so that all of the files you would typically use can be added to a template repository so that you don't have to add them each time you need to create a new repository. These files can be as simple as a customised .gitignore file, all the way up to a pre-defined template you use for an application.

Setup and use GitHub Repository Templates

Prior to starting, ensure you have the GitHub and git CLI tools installed and that you have authenticated your GitHub account with both of them.

Note: The template repository name used in the below example, my-template-repo, can be changed to whatever you would like it to be.

Create a Repository

First, open your CLI tool and create a normal GitHub repository, be that a public or private repository.

gh repo create my-template-repo \
            --private \
            --clone \
            --gitignore Python \
            --disable-wiki \
            --license MIT
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So, what does the above do? It will:

  • Create a repository called my-template-repo.
  • It will be a private repository (--private (change it to --public if you want it to be public)).
  • It will be cloned to the folder you are currently in (--clone).
  • A .gitignore file will be created with the defaults GitHub has for Python (--gitignore Python). Others are available for other languages.
  • The wiki section of the repository will be disabled (--disable-wiki).
  • An MIT license will be applied (--license MIT). Others are available or you can remove this if you don't want a license applied to the repository.

Change Folder

Navigate to the folder the repository was cloned to, which is typically the name of the repository:

cd my-template-repo
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Add Files to Folder

Place all of the files that you want into the folder and make any changes to the .gitignore file you want.

Add Files to a Commit

Add the files to be committed.

git add .
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Create a Commit

Create a commit for all the files that were added or changed.

git commit -m "Base template files"
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Push Commit to GitHub

Push the files to that repository.

git push
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Convert the Repository to a Template Repository

Convert the repository to a template repository:

gh repo edit <your-github-username>/my-template-repo --template
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If you look in the list of your repositories in your web browser, it will now show as Private Template, rather than just Private next to the repositories name.

Create a Repository Using the Template Repository

Now you can create a new repository from that template. Change my-new-repo to the name you want it to be and --public to --private if you need it to be a private repository:

gh repo create my-new-repo \
            --public \
            --clone \
            --template my-template-repo
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The repository will be cloned to a folder with the name of the new repository in the folder you are currently in.

Conclusion

In this article, we covered:

  • Creating a new repository that would be used as a template.
  • Converting that repository to be a template after the files have been added.
  • Finally, deploying a new repository from that template repository.

Top comments (2)

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yuridevat profile image
Julia 👩🏻‍💻 • Edited on

Thank you so much for this great introduction on how to create a GitHub Template. I was thinking about creating one lately, so your article is exactly what I needed!

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dev_neil_a profile image
dev_neil_a

No problem. I hope it was useful.

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