Choosing an appropriate source control platform is an essential decision for any software development team. There are many chances that many of them will choose Git for the version control software itself. However, selecting the platform where the code lives is also an important step.
GitHub and Bitbucket are the most likely choice in this case. These platforms have attracted strong communities and user base over recent years and now they both look very reliable and powerful.
Should I use Bitbucket or GitHub? Which platform is better right for my team? Is Bitbucket the same as Git? These essential questions often deprive young teams of healthy sleep and make them learn more about the two platforms. In this article, we briefly describe both platforms to indicate which would better serve your software development needs.
What is GitHub?
GitHub is the most popular version control system (VCS) that contains above 57 million code repositories on file. According to its name, GitHub only hosts projects that use the Git version control system (not Mercurial or SVN).
GitHub (that was originally started in 2008) is designed to encourage close collaboration within development teams. Public repositories are free, so GitHub is highly appreciated among open-source communities. GitHub is written in Ruby and Erlang and the system is available for Windows, Mac, and Android.
To get more about the largest code host, it worth listing its main features.
- Encouraging dev teams’ communication
- Labels and milestones within projects
- An integrated issue tracker
- Branch comparison views
- GitHub Pages for publishing and hosting within GitHub
- Native apps for Mac & Windows, and an Android app
- Advanced security and two-factor authentication for login
- Supporting 200+ programming languages and data formats
- Integration with numerous tools and platforms
- Syntax highlighting
- Frequent usage in open source projects
What is Bitbucket?
Bitbucket supports Git and Mercurial VCS, but not SVN. It is written in Python and uses Django.
Bitbucket is available for Mac and Windows and for the Android app. It comes with SOC 2 Type II security compliance. The system was launched in 2008, in Australia (originally offering hosting only for Mercurial projects). In 2010, it was acquired by the Australian company Atlassian. A year later support for Git repos was added. Let’s define key features to know more about it.
- Pull requests and code reviews
- Branch comparison and commit history
- Unlimited private repositories for free
- Built-in issue tracking
- Stash – Bitbucket for Enterprises
- Integration with Hygger, Jira, Trello, Jenkins, and many more
- Branch permissions (ability to restrict access to a single branch)
- Ability to create multi-file snippets of all kinds (thanks to Bitbucket Snippets)
- Supporting Git LFS (Large File Storage) to shorten clone and fetch times for those who work with large files.
GitHub vs BitBucket: Comparing UX
GitHub is widely used by small development teams for hosting their code. This has made it a popular platform with one of the best UX in the open-source community. The platform was not initially focused on open source. It has struggled at times with an interface that looked more complex to navigate than what GitHub offered. Nowadays Bitbucket is often praised for its user experience. It proposes one of the best online editors for editing code directly online without checking it out onto the machine first.
Bitbucket is not the simplest platform to use, but it’s really versatile and powerful with numerous useful features to support small businesses and global enterprises. Bitbucket proposes a fully-fledged Git interface and supports different actions from filtering pull requests to issue tracking.
GitHub provides its users with a simple and handy interface available even for beginners to Git. It is open-source friendly and packs a UI that provides access to Git’s underlying features. GitHub allows seeing and reviewing commits by collaborators, with online diff features. It means that you can manage code with all details. You will also get outstanding support for collaborative code review, highly useful for working in teams, as well as DevOps features (for example, CI/CD).
GitHub vs Bitbucket: Comparing Developer Adoption
Developer adoption is an area where the difference between Bitbucket and GitHub is observed most evident.
Bitbucket has no dominant position in open source (that GitHub has long being experienced) and continues to take second place in terms of the number of users. However, the community of Bitbucket has recorded impressive growth over the last years. Nowadays the platform boasts more than 10 million registered users; however, GitHub also continues to grow.
The commitment to helping companies write code, test software, and collaborate, has seen it grow to a level when many reliable companies use Bitbucket every single day. It definitely has a smaller community than GitHub, but it is also notable for its numerous integrations.
The community of GitHub looks more impressive, especially in the open-source environment. There is a kind of stereotype proclaiming that your code must be hosted and publicly available on GitHub in order to be considered as a credible open source project or open-source developer. GitHub’s community is active in more than 200 countries. It is a significant driver in the platform’s preeminence in the tech world.
It positively affects and drives business value. Perhaps it might have been a factor in Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub in 2018. It is logical to assume that the GitHub community could continue to grow rapidly in the years ahead.
GitHub vs Bitbucket: Comparing Collaboration Issues
GitHub and Bitbucket not only deal with source code, but they also serve as collaboration and knowledge sharing platforms.
Various tools for collaboration, including wikis, are built right into the platforms. These tools improve team collaboration and help to work on the ideas that form part of the intellectual space of the code.
In Bitbucket, wikis become available when you create a code repository. They can be edited and controlled according to versions, many projects also use them as project home pages.
In GitHub, you may also find numerous collaboration features. Here are some projects with the highest numbers of contributors and the most influential collaborator networks: Node.js, React Native, Ansible, Rust, Kubernetes, Apache Spark, etc. The workflow in GitHub makes it one of the best platforms for teams striving to work on code together, no matter it is open source or not. It also comes with support for wikis to document projects and share information with the entire team.
Check out one more of our articles about the comparison of GitHub and GitLab.
Are there reliable alternatives?
GitHub and Bitbucket do certainly rock but it does not mean that they are the only viable platforms available. There are some longtime players that have always been chugging along in the background. They can get even more attention now that Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub. You’ve definitely heard about them.
Gitlab was represented in 2011. Some years later, it became a notable competitor to both Bitbucket and GitHub. Gitlab has turned from source code management to a full DevOps lifecycle product. Now it is a complete DevOps platform, delivered as a single app.
SourceForge is another reliable platform in the open-source world. It allows developers to host their code and distribute software and downloads through the platform. SourceForge additionally provides tools to import GitHub repos along with related data (for example, wikis).
This powerful collaboration management platform is one of the big names in the modern open-source environment. This software management solution will become a great solution if you are working on open source code. It is used by Canonical (makers of the Ubuntu Linux distro and related software).
GitHub and Bitbucket are very closely matched in terms of their functionality and both already have unlimited free private repositories. Each has some unique features not found in the other. Neither of them supports SVN that remains quite popular.
Your choice may directly depend on the structure of your specific project. Bitbucket may fit better in case you have many private projects and small numbers of users. If you collaborate within the large team on just a few projects, GitHub may be the better option.
It’s up to you, but now you have at least a general understanding of these platforms and able to choose.