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GitHub vs GitLab: Which is the Best Repository Manager for Developers?

Working on a software project means endless revisions, errors, and changes. Multiple developers will be working on the code at the same time, making it difficult to track changes and implement them. That’s when you need a repository manager to organize and manage your code. GitHub has been dominating the space for long until GitLab entered the market, making it harder to decide. This detailed guide on GitHub vs GitLab comparison will make it easier to choose the best platform for your project. 

GitHub vs GitLab: Which is the Best Repository Manager for Developers?

Things We Will Discuss 

  • Introduction to GitHub and GitLab
  • Comparison of GitHub and GitLab Features 
  • Pros and Cons of Each Platform
  • Similarities and Differences Between GitHub and GitLab
  • Which is the Best Repository Manager?

What is GitHub?

Founded in 2008, GitHub is an online community platform for developers. It gives you a secure place to store, manage, and collaborate their code. You can even work on the same code without interfering with work of other teammates. 

A few more things to know about GitHub:

Version control: The platform not only stores the entire code, but it also keeps a history of all the changes made to it over time. So, its easy to go back and view previous codes and versions. 

Collaboration: Multiple developers can work on the same project or code at the same time as each version is stored as a branch. Thus, code conflicts never occur and it’s also easier to see who is working on what and merge changes later.

Open source: GitHub is completely open for all developers where anyone can see, use, and modify the code.  

The platform is more than just a code repository. It’s a place to learn, connect, and improve with like-minded professionals from the software field. GitHub has a dedicated place called GitHub Community with tools, resources, and documentation to help you.    

What is GitLab?

In 2011, a new open-source platform for developers was launched. However, unlike GitHub, GitLab goes beyond just code management. It is a one-stop shop where you get the necessary tools and resources to plan, code, test, deploy, and monitor your software code.

GitHub vs GitLab Feature Comparison 

Both have tools you need to code, build, and manage your open-source projects. Let’s learn about their features one by one. 

Features of GitHub 

  • Automatically set the environment and allow contribution to the projects
  • Allow access to multiple contributors. 
  • Search and view code from GitHub.com. 
  • Assign one or multiple reviewers for code checking and resolve issues. 
  • Merge changes directly using automated status checks. 
  • Automate the software development workflow. 
  • Private repositories to host your code securely. 
  • Two-factor authentication, required status checks, code scanning, and secret scanning to secure your code. 
  • Private vulnerability reporting and audit log to see who worked on the code. 
  • GPG commit signing verification.
  • Assign, edit, and manage permissions to team members working on GitHub. 
  • Access GitHub from the platform of your choice, mobile or desktop. 

For the full features, check out this link.

Features of GitLab

  • Tools to plan, organize, and track the project’s progress throughout its lifecycle.
  • A single source of truth for teams to work on projects and code. 
  • Automatically build, test, and verify code and get faster feedback to improve the code’s quality. 
  • Static and dynamic application security testing, container, and dependency scanning to secure your code. 
  • Artifact registry to deliver your software faster in the market without any interruption. 
  • Automated deployments with zero-touch continuous delivery. 
  • On-call schedule management, error tracking, and incident management features to reduce errors. 
  • Comprehensive solutions to meet the different compliance requirements for your software such as SOC2, ISO, FEB, and HIPAA. 

To learn about the full features of GitLab, check out this link.

So, Are Both Similar? 

After reading the above features you might think both are almost the same. Well, that’s true to some extent because of these reasons. 

Firstly, both help you host static websites without paying for any third-party services. They offer tools and resources for the individual as well software development team to use their features. 

Their open-source natural and similar features to improve collaboration among developers are the major similarities.  

Not completely, but GitHub supports continuous integration which is the main feature of GitLab. Last but not least, these repository managers use artificial intelligence for code suggestions. 

Due to these similarities, many get confused between GitHub and GitLab. Your confusion will be clear after reading major differences between them. 

What Are the Differences Between GitHub and GitLab?

If you look closer to each platform you would find the clear-cut differences between the two. Well, you don’t have to because we have a compile a full list of the major parameters of comparison. 

  1. Authentication Level: While both let you secure the code by giving permission access to team members, the level at which they are applicable is different. In GitHub, you can give permission to either read or write whereas GitLab allows permission to users with different roles. 
  2. Workflow: Both have different workflows where one focuses on speed and the other on reliability. GitHub follows a speedy approach where new branches are merged with the main branch. GitLab allows the creation of multiple stable branches where each one needs separate testing. Thus, code should be reviewed multiple times to ensure it is error-free. 
  3. Self-hosting: Hosting a private server is possible in GitLab’s free plan whereas enterprise plan is mandatory in GitHub. 
  4. Free Version: GitHub offers unlimited access to public repositories in the free version. In GitLab, you can access both private and public repositories.
  5. Import and Export: You can easily import and export data from multiple vendors in GitLab. There’s even complete documentation to learn about data import/export.  But GitHub does not have such feature. 
  6. Pricing: If you are using any of these two cloud-based repository managers for personal use, it would be free of cost. Their team and enterprise packages are a bit expensive. GitHub charges only $4 per user monthly with only 2GB package storage whereas GitLab offers 50GB space at $29 per user per month. 

Which One is Better?

Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of GitHub and GitLab to help you decide which platform might be a better fit for your needs:

GitHub Pros:

  • Larger user base and community.
  • Simpler interface.
  • Strong focus on code hosting and social coding.
  • A wider range of third-party integrations.

GitHub Cons:

  • Limited free plan.
  • Less emphasis on DevSecOps.
  • Limited project management features. 

GitLab Pros:

  • Free tier with unlimited private repositories.
  • Strong DevSecOps capabilities. 
  • Comprehensive project management tools. 
  • Self-hosting option. 

GitLab Cons:

  • Smaller user base and community.
  • Steeper learning curve. 
  • Limited third-party integrations (compared to GitHub).

Conclusion

GitHub is the most popular repository among software developers and thus their first choice. However, the new repository in the market has slowly gained the reputation of being the best cloud-based repository manager. 

Comparing GitLab vs GitHub will help you in making the final decision but don’t just focus on popularity and features. Weigh each one’s benefits and drawbacks to identify which one would suit best for your software projects.  

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