Grabbing the latest version number from a GitHub repository
Oct 5, 2011 githubwebopen-source

I currently have several GitHub repositories, where some also have a gh-pages branch with a public web site for each project. On these pages, I want to show and link to the latest version.

On these pages, I present and drescribe the repository. I also want to make it easy to download the latest release. I therefore have a big download button in which I want to show the latest version number.

The answer is really simple. Use the GitHub API! For the example in this post to work, each new version must be pushed as a tag to GitHub.

Let’s say that we want to create a 2.1.0 version of a library. We would then (after all other version operations) create and and push a tag to GitHub:

git tag 2.1.0
git push origin 2.1.0

We can now use the GitHub api to fetch and present the latest version.

Use the GitHub API to grab all tags

The GitHub API let’s you do almost anything. You can find all the information you need here. However, instead of using jQuery to call the API, I decided to try fitzgen’s JavaScript github-api library.

To grab all tags for a certain repository, you just have write the following:

var repo = new gh.repo("danielsaidi", "Facadebook");
repo.tags(function(result){ alert(JSON.stringify(result)); });

Since I will use this for all GitHub repositories, I decided to package my custom script according to the rest of the JavaScript library. I thus created another async method for the gh.repo prototype, like this:

gh.repo.prototype.getLatestRelease = function(callback) {
    this.tags(function(result) {
        var latest = "";
        for (var prop in result.tags) {
            if (prop > latest) {
                latest = prop;

On each site, I have a span element with the id version and add the code snippet below to the end of github.js:

$(document).ready(function() {
    var repo = new gh.repo("danielsaidi", "Facadebook");
    var tags = repo.getLatestRelease(function(result){ $("#version").html(result); });

That’s is! When the page loads, th script loads all available repository tags, iterates over them and grab the highest tag name. The result is rather nice:

Cloney screenshot

Hope this helps!