GitHub vs. GitLab vs. Bitbucket: which Code Repo Should You Choose?

Code repository choice is quite an essential step. However, which factors are better to consider while making the choice? Let’s look at both sides of each repository.

Nowadays, code repositories have transformed into convenient helpers for software developers, especially those who work in large teams all over the world. Project progress became a few times faster since such repositories were introduced. But when a team wants to choose the right place to store their code, which factors should be considered? Here are three most common and trustworthy repositories for you to look at closely. So, if you have doubts, follow up!

What are the main features of a good repository?

Repositories or VCS (version control systems) can be of three main types:

 - Local. All the software developers are in the same system of files.

 - Centralized. There is one copy of the project on the main server, and each member of the team can provide changes to this copy document.

- Distributed. Each part of the team has its own local repository, and the changes are distributed between them.

We will mostly talk about Git repositories, as they have proven to be the best for the development teams. So, let’s figure out what contains a good repository.

Pull request. Every time users make changes in the source code, all the people in their network or their colleagues are notified about an update or change. It is convenient for further team discussions.

Web-based review of the code.

Editing. If a repository has a capability of online and group editing, it tells a lot about its quality.

Bug tracking. Well-known fact states there is no project that is bug-less. It is cool and simplifies a task when a repository tracks and fixes bugs online with a team.

If a repository works with “markdown syntax” it adds to the code readability a lot.

Two-factor authentication is important to make sure the data is secure.

The capability to make ‘forks’ or duplicates of repositories.

Snippets support that allows users to share parts of code or files with others, like team members or even themselves, if needed.

Ability to cooperate with third-party services.

Import of repositories. When users shift from one service to another, it’s a great option if repositories allow to import the work done.

Open source license is a good sign for some situations. It is a common practice for organizations when they want to create an internal repository within their own servers and not use any public web services. Out of three repositories under circumspection, only GitLab has an open source license. The system has friendly interface and is easy to operate in.

There are 3 most popular Git repositories used by developers globally. Let’s look at advantages and disadvantages of each.


GitHub is the most popular web service that allows to store git repositories and develop a project in teams. It helps to create particular control systems based on Git for users easily. GitHub gained such fame as it works with seamless version merges and splits the visualization tools and navigation tools through nonlinear programming history. As for now, GitHub keeps 50+ million open-source projects.


Lots of things make GitHub worthy of its success and ‘fame’. Here is a limited list (that can be continued):

- Following bugs. This feature was created thanks to the community and their input. It helps to enhance the software quality and check the software for bugs and keep track of the bugs found.

- Fast search. The GitHub repository is structured in a very detailed manner. The project has good search and filter possibilities. Any user that has good command of search strings can find any line from the open-source code in this repository.

- Community. According to the GitHub report from April 2017, this website has more than 20 million active users that share and communicate. The users create powerful and positive community with a sharing culture that encourages to improve skills and professionalism. Users can communicate, leave comments, and follow updates on different subjects.

- Sharing. The code of the project can be stored in the repository, can be copied and downloaded as an archive to users’ computer.

- Cooperation. GitHub offers useful and practical features for team activities.

- Integration. The projects with the code located in GitHub can be easily integrated to any other cloud-based services.

- Works with Git, TFS, HG and SVN import.


 - Using GitHub is not absolutely free. To reach all the features and tools of GitHub, you should pay and upgrade your status as a Premium user.

- Size restrictions. The size of one file can’t exceed 100Mb, while the repository can keep 1Gb of data.
We will mostly talk about Git repositories, as they have proven to be the best for the development teams. So, let’s figure out what contains a good repository.


The website is also based on Git version control. Though GitLab’s number of features reminds of those from its main rival GitHub, still there are essential differences. GitLab has other forms, like GitLab SAAS, made particularly for enterprises, and GitLab Community Edition, an individual version for users.


- It’s free for users. Users of GitLab can create limitless repositories. It works only with Community edition, and if users want an Enterprise version – they must pay. Enterprise version's additional features make the work experience faster and easier in terms of virtual tools operation, server activities control, and work management.

- GitLab is open-source licensed.

- It has an ability to track bugs and fix them online.

- It is integrated with Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, so it is possible to place and reach different resources on the web. GitLab Enterprise edition works with numerous LDAP services and team


- Works with Git import.


- Comparatively slow interface.

- Often there are regular troubles with repositories.

We will mostly talk about Git repositories, as they have proven to be the best for the development teams. So, let’s figure out what contains a good repository.


Bitbucket is like GitHub. It has similar functions, but also has a slight difference. It is oriented more on the software development teams, rather than on developers individually, as its features allow free private repositories for developers or groups of developers. It also offers JIRA integrations, deep code review, and includes CI/CD. It also has a commercial version, but the prices are lower than those of the two abovementioned competitors, so it is business-friendly. Interesting feature of Bitbucket is a comfortable deployment model for software development groups.


 - An availability of free private repositories and pipelines build minutes for groups of developers of a smaller size (less than 5 people). Such groups have limitless repositories for free, as well as 500 build minutes.

 - Small teams (up to 5 team members) get an unlimited number of free repositories and 500 build minutes. Talking prices, the Enterprise edition costs $5 a month per user, while GitHub offers their service for $21. 

 - Bitbucket has smart advanced search that understands the code you want to find. It uses a semantic search, when the meaning of the word you’ve entered has a higher priority than usages of this word or its synonyms.

 - Bitbucket has such possibilities, like IP whitelisting and double-step verification, which provide administrators with more managing solutions on who can review, push, or copy a private code repository, as well as cooperation with Atlassian ID and Google Login.

 - Bitbucket brings Trello by default, so you can begin with a cool free issue tracker, or you can leverage existing JIRA instance to activate deep integrations like automatic issue transitions and progressive agile workflows. Owned by Atlassian, JIRA and Trello are integrated all the time, from the creation of the branch to deployment. As JIRA tracks bugs within the Bitbucket, the status on findings is always updated.

 - The possibility of import of other Git projects from Excel, GitHub etc.

 - Special offers and process for students and teachers.

 - Works with the import of Git, CodePlex, Google Code, Mercurial, SourceForge, and SVN.

 - Such features, as Bitbucket pipelines, provide visibility through all the processes in your project at any stage. There is no CI server and no need to set it up. All the repositories, JIRA tickets, and statuses of the build are automatically synchronized.


 - Bitbucket isn’t an open source; however, it works with such projects and free usage by OSS projects.

 We will mostly talk about Git repositories, as they have proven to be the best for the development teams. So, let’s figure out what contains a good repository.


Now, after you’ve read about three repositories, you understand that each is convenient and offers slightly different service, and you can estimate main advantages and disadvantages. All have fans, as it depends on which functionality people search for more.

Out of these 3 repositories services, only GitLab is open source. The original code of GitLab Community Edition is open and accessible on their website, while the corporate version is private. GitHub, which is the most numerous in fans and has the biggest open source code, is not an open source. Bitbucket is not open source, but if you order a certain version, the full code is given with all the setting options.

So, you must choose which one suits you, according to your needs and tasks, your specifics and timing.

If you are looking for an open source place, go for GitLab.

If you need or love to work with Atlassian services, you will hardly find anything better than Bitbucket.
GitHub is the most widely used website that has a wide range of open source code presented.
Determine your priorities and enjoy using these platforms that make your professional experience better!