GitLab vs. GitHub: What’s the Right Hosting Platform for Your Workflow?

In truth, it’s rare to find a developer that doesn’t have some strong opinions when it comes to their tools. From newbie coders to professional programmers, we’ve all got programs and platforms that we prefer - and specific reasons as to why we prefer one option over another. Sometimes, it’s a simple case of having learned on a particular development tool - for myself, I prefer writing code on Sublime Text for this reason. I learned on it, it’s an elegant software and particularly for new coders, the color-coding of different languages and elements is incredibly helpful in spotting mistakes. (I’m looking at you, Javascript!)

GitLab vs. GitHub: What’s the Right Version Control System for Your Workflow?

Choosing tools when you’re working on your own is fairly simple, but if you’re collaborating with other team members or managing multiple development projects, it’s crucial to find tools that everyone can easily work with. In a group setting, a Version Control System, or VCS, isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Knowing who is deploying code, exactly what changes they’re making - and having the ability to prevent a bug from being deployed to a live product can make or break a project. Git is by far the most popular Version Control System for coding - and in the post below we share Git basics, and take a close look and two of the most popular hosting options on the market today - GitLab and GitHub.

When it comes to Git hosting you’ve got choices. GitHub and Bitbucket are two popular solutions, but GitLab is another alternative worth exploring.  But whatever your decision, rest assured that it’s easy to connect any Git repository to DeployBot once you’ve chosen.

What is Git?

Git is free and open source software. It’s a Version Control System (VCS) developed in 2005 by Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux. A VCS is vital to development projects requiring more than one developer as it simplifies keeping track of changes to code.

Designed to manage a set of files as they change over time, Git uses a data structure called a repository to store information. Unlike previous VCS that store the full version history of software code in one place, Git is a Distributed Version Control System (DVCS). In this case, each developer’s copy of the code functions as a unique repository that contains the complete history of all changes.

What is GitLab?

GitLab is a web-based Git repository manager designed for team collaboration, and includes a Wiki and issue-tracking among other features. GitLab features shared runners so you can use the built-in Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD). Internal projects encourages innersourcing of internal repositories, increasing cooperation among team members. Commit graph and reporting tools provide additional information about the work of collaborators.

Milestones in GitLab offer a method of tracking issues and merge requests created to achieve a high-level goal. You can create and manage milestones across projects. These can be imported from Bitbucket, FogBugz, Google Code, Gitea, Github and any Git URL. On the other hand, if you wish to export your project to other platforms, GitLab offers complete access to your data.

When dealing with multiple issues, you can promptly set their status, assignee or milestone at the same time. Plus you can filter them on any property to quickly find what you need.You can also move issues between projects while retaining all links,history and comments. And if you’re creating new branches from specific issues, you’ll be able to retain the issue number and title, thus making your workflow more efficient. (And making it easier to work with other collaborators.)

GitLab streamlines community contributions by allowing edits from upstream maintainers in a branch. That reduces the back and forth that would otherwise normally happen.

GitLab Pricing

GitLab is available under both free and paid plans. GitLab.com is a free SaaS version with unlimited private repositories and contributors, plus 2,000 CI pipeline minutes monthly. GitLab Community Edition is a self-hosted version that’s also free and features unlimited users and CI.

The Bronze Plan (currently $4 per user monthly) designed for personal projects and small teams offers added features over and above the free plan, including next business day support.

The Silver Plan at $19 per user monthly offers additional features not found in the Bronze Plan and increase the number of CI pipeline minutes to 10,000 per month.

The Gold Plan at $99 per user monthly offers all features included with the offer by Silver Plan while increasing CI pipeline minutes to 50,000 per month, providing 4-hour support response time and adding enterprise-specific features and security.

What is GitHub?

Like GitLab, GitHub is a web-based Git repository manager that helps facilitate team collaboration. We recently published a post on GitHub vs Bitbucket, but here are some of the main features.

GitHub bills itself as “the world’s leading software development platform.” With over 20 million users, that popularity cannot be ignored. Their huge community is highly engaged and very supportive.

On the platform side, you can assign tasks, conduct reviews and discuss ideas in GitHub via pull requests. As changes happen to your repository you can use diffs to compare different versions of source code.

As your team grows, it becomes even more important to exercise control over who has what level of access to your code. With GitHub, branch permissions limit who can push to a specific branch. Repositories can be set to require pull request reviews and status checks, further helping to decrease errors.

Like GitLab, GitHub is designed for use by dev teams of all sizes. Not surprisingly, there’s a number of integrated project management features like assignees, cards, milestones, notes and tasks. In addition, GitHub offers a great desktop app for easily managing your repos on your local device, and pushing changes without needing to fire up your browser. Too, If that’s not enough, you can choose from any number of 3rd-party add-ons if you’d like even greater control and insight into existing projects.

GitHub Pricing

GitHub’s free plan offers unlimited users and public repositories. There are no private repositories and no team or user permissions are available. Solo developers, especially those just getting started, will find this more than adequate.

If you’re a solo developer with the need for private repositories, their paid plan (currently $7/month) is worth investigating. It offers unlimited private and public repositories plus unlimited collaborators.

For small teams of 5 users or more, GitHub has a team plan starting at $25/month for 5 users plus $9/month for each additional one. For this price you’ll get an organization account that has unlimited repositories (private and public) along with team and user permissions.

Large teams will most likely want to take advantage of GitHubs enterprise offerings starting at $21/month. Two options are available; either hosted by GitHub or hosted on your own server AWS, Azure or GCP.

So what should you choose? GitLab or GitHub?

For solo developers, making this choice is a simple one - both of these hosting platforms offer free plans, so you can try out both and see which one suits you best. If you prefer to keep your repos private, and that’s a consideration for a lot of new programmers who may be shy about sharing their work - you’ll likely lean towards GitLab as it offers unlimited free repositories. On the other hand, GitHub is not only a well-designed software, but it’s fostered a global community of programmers, so it’s easy to reach out to other devs for feedback or insights, and see their own coding projects in process. If you’re still on the fence, it’s worth trying both to see which one suits your tastes best.

If you’re working with a team, however, it’s worth your time to speak about these options together. Different programmers have their own opinions on which code development tools they prefer and why - and if you’re working in a start-up, budget will likely also play a fairly significant factor in the decision.  

Regardless of which Git software you ultimately choose, rest assured that DeployBot integrates with GitLab and GitHub, in addition to other popular platforms so you can deploy code anywhere with zero downtime. (New to DeployBot? Get started here.)

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