GitHub vs. GitLab

GitHub vs. GitLab: Selecting the Best One in 2024

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When creating software, keeping track of changes is crucial. Version control is the cornerstone—an intricate system that tracks and oversees alterations, ensuring a smooth evolution of software endeavors over time. It documents modifications, prevents accidental overwrites, and facilitates easy retraction to earlier versions.

Git stands at the center of this process, the foundation of modern version control systems, empowering developers to branch out, working simultaneously on different parts of a project. When their work is done, it all comes together in the main codebase.

Today, we’re comparing GitHub and GitLab, two big platforms for managing Git projects at scale. We’ll look at their features, advantages, and disadvantages to help you decide which one fits your project best.

Introduction to Git

Before choosing between GitHub or GitLab, grasping Git basics is essential. Git, an open-source version control system, fosters seamless developer collaboration and safeguards code changes for easy review. Its ability to handle multiple branch versions sets it apart from traditional systems.

For enterprises seeking enhanced collaboration, cloud-based solutions like GitHub or GitLab provide comprehensive code repository management and integrated DevOps tools. Let’s explore and compare these platforms to find the right choice for managing your software.

What Is GitHub?

Being the most prominent source code platform in 2020, GitHub is a Git-based repository hosting platform boasting over 40 million users. GitHub’s code enables global sharing and collaboration and allows both public and private project hosting.

Beyond acting as a code repository, GitHub serves as a platform for documentation, issue tracking, and wikis. It’s a cloud-based system facilitating code monitoring and testing, providing a comprehensive development platform with integrations available through the GitHub marketplace.

Creators of GitHub

GitHub was founded by Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath, and PJ Hyett in 2008 using Ruby on Rails (RoR). They envisioned a platform that would simplify code collaboration and sharing among developers worldwide.

Their goal was to develop a user-friendly and powerful platform accessible to developers of all backgrounds. Since its launch, GitHub has gained recognition within the developer community and has become a cornerstone in code hosting and collaboration.

Features of GitHub

  • Specified labels and milestones for project organization
  • Branch comparison for code management
  • Website hosting capabilities
  • Syntax highlighting for code readability
  • Integration options with third-party APIs

Advantages of GitHub

  • Streamlined documentation sharing
  • Robust open-source structure
  • Efficient repository search
  • Seamless third-party integration
  • Support for different VCS (Version Control Systems)
  • Offers both free and paid service tiers

Disadvantages of GitHub

  • API limitations for REST and RESTful API development
  • Costly private repositories
  • Limited advanced development functionalities
  • It is not entirely free and has space limitations for repositories

What Is GitLab?

GitLab acts as a cloud-based Git repository and DevOps platform, simplifying code testing, monitoring, and deployment for developers. Initially known for its cloud-based Git repository, GitLab has grown into a comprehensive development platform.

It now offers a suite of DevOps features, including security, continuous integration, and various application development tools. Starting as an open-source, self-hosted alternative to GitHub, GitLab has expanded to provide both paid and free SaaS plans.

Beyond its roots as a repository, GitLab includes essential project management tools within a DevOps framework, going beyond a typical version control system for software code.

Creators of GitLab

GitLab’s inception is owed to two visionary Ukrainian developers, Valery Sizov and Dmitriy Zaporozhets, who envisioned a more efficient Git repository management tool. Both, frustrated by the existing system’s limitations, sought to create user-friendly, scalable code management platforms accessible to all, regardless of technical expertise.

GitLab emerged in 2011, swiftly gaining traction among developers worldwide. Today, it’s embraced by millions across diverse industries and organizational scales.

Features of GitLab

  • Code repository import allows easy migration from platforms like Bitbucket or Google Code
  • Open-source community edition for collaboration and development
  • Robust repository maintenance tools
  • Time-tracking features to help manage project timelines
  • Issue tracking system for logging and resolving code-related issues

Advantages of GitLab

  • Open-source licensing allows customization and modification
  • Self-hosting options offer control over data and security
  • User-friendly package distribution simplifies sharing among teams
  • Support for CI/CD streamlines development workflows

Disadvantages of GitLab

  • Slower interface that may impact productivity
  • Consistent bug management is necessary throughout the development cycle
  • Absence of some advanced enterprise-level features

The Similarities Between GitHub and GitLab

GitHub and GitLab are services that both host Git, a system designed to log changes to a repository across all versions. These two systems are designed to use Git for projects, although they differ in many ways, including implementation and ideologies.

Despite this, the two code management and development platforms share a few similarities. In this section, we will look at what these two platforms have in common. So, whether you need a web app vs. a mobile app or more, you can gain better knowledge of their background and basics and choose the ideal one for you.

ParametersGitHub vs. GitLab
Third-party integration servicesBoth come with several third-party integrations.
Issues set upBoth GitHub and GitLab make it easy to set up milestones, assignees, and bug statuses.
Clear labeling schemeBoth use a transparent labeling approach to facilitate faster software development monitoring methods.
Issue trackingBoth have issue-tracking tools that allow you to appoint people to handle issues and update their status on demand.
Self-hostedBoth provide self-hosted versions; however, GitHub includes enterprise options.
CI/CD servicesGitHub provides CI/CD services via third-party apps. GitLab comes pre-configured.
Preview code changesBoth platforms allow you to preview code changes.
Wiki-based documentationBoth GitHub and GitLab feature wiki-based rich documentation.
Multiple issue assigneesGitHub provides a public repository for free, whereas GitLab has paid options for the same.
Team discussionsTeam communication is feasible with both.
Project management dashboardsBoth enable project management dashboards.
Load performance testingGitHub contains built-in load performance testing options; however, GitLab requires a premium plan.

GitHub vs GitLab: The Differences

Now, let’s take a look at the GitLab and GitHub differences to figure out which is the best choice for your project.

User Experience and Team Collaboration Features

GitLab emphasizes unified development for seamless team collaboration, offering tools for project management, issue tracking, code reviews, and workflow automation. Integration options extend their capabilities to Jira, Asana, Datadog, Slack, and even GitHub. Additionally, GitLab hosts its CI/CD tool, simplifying team workflows.

In contrast, GitHub provides a unified platform for code collaboration, review, and project management. Its intuitive design ensures accessibility for users of varying expertise to navigate repositories, issues, and pull requests effortlessly. GitHub Actions, integrated CI/CD, facilitates project building, testing, and deployment directly from repositories.

Notably, GitHub’s extensive third-party integrations via GitHub Marketplace enable tailored workflows that are adaptable to existing tech setups. The platform’s vibrant open-source community further enriches its environment.

Hosting Options

Choosing the right hosting option for your version control platform hinges on your project’s size, complexity, infrastructure preferences, and compliance needs.

GitLab provides diverse hosting choices tailored to different project demands:

  • (Cloud-Based): A fully managed, cloud-hosted solution with automatic updates and scaling. Ideal for teams favoring cloud-based ease of use and minimal infrastructure management.
  • GitLab Self-Managed (Self-Hosted): The on-premises, self-hosted version offering complete infrastructure control. It is suitable for enterprises needing specific security or compliance customization.

GitHub also offers a range of hosting options to suit varying user requirements:

  • (Cloud-Based): A user-friendly, fully managed cloud environment simplifying project setup and management. GitHub handles server infrastructure, allowing focus on coding and collaboration.
  • GitHub Enterprise (Self-Hosted): Allows deployment on private infrastructure or cloud, offering control over security, customization, and data privacy. Popular among larger enterprises with specific compliance and governance needs.

Both GitLab and GitHub present cloud-based and self-hosted choices, addressing diverse user preferences and organizational needs. Selection between the two hinges on project scale, security, compliance requirements, and desired hosting environment control.


Both GitLab and GitHub facilitate integration with third-party tools, enhancing functionality, automation, and collaboration to streamline development and improve code quality.

GitLab offers pre-built integrations with popular tools and an API for customized integrations, allowing workspace tailoring to unique workflows.

Notable GitLab integrations include:

  • Kubernetes: Automates deployment, scaling, and maintenance of containerized applications, optimizing cloud-native app management.
  • Jira Software: Seamlessly tracks and manages issues and tasks within GitLab, reducing context switching by integrating with this popular project management tool.

GitHub, similarly, boasts a wide array of integrations available via the GitHub Marketplace. This central hub simplifies the discovery and installation of integrations within the GitHub platform.

Prominent GitHub integrations are:

  • Slack: Facilitates updates about GitHub activities directly within Slack channels, enhancing communication on code changes and pull requests.
  • AWS: Enables interaction with AWS services like AWS Lambda and Amazon S3 from GitHub repositories, supporting serverless computing and scalable storage solutions integrated with the codebase.

Choosing between GitLab and GitHub for integrations depends on your team’s preferences and specific needs. Evaluate your preferred toolkit, integration setup simplicity, and availability of desired third-party services.

Pricing and Plans

GitLab and GitHub provide free plans offering unlimited public and private repositories, ideal for testing or small teams. However, these come with limited advanced features and storage.

Both platforms offer paid tiers for teams needing advanced functionalities. GitHub’s Team and Enterprise plans offer increased storage, more GitHub Actions minutes, and access to features like enhanced security controls and deployment protection rules.

In contrast, GitLab’s Premium and Ultimate Enterprise plans provide advanced CI/CD capabilities, dedicated support, and robust security solutions for enterprise-grade needs.

Whatever you choose will affect the overall cost of app development. Moreover, it is recommended that you pick your pricing tier based on project scale, complexity, specific needs, and budget. Smaller projects may suffice with the free tier, while larger or complex ones might benefit from the advanced capabilities of paid plans.

Moving forward, we’ll now consider some other discrepancies between GitLab vs. GitHub.

Levels of authenticationSetting and changing access and permissions in accordance with various roles and responsibilities is simple with GitLab.You can decide whether to grant team members read or write access while using GitHub.
CI/CD servicesGitLab delivers free in-built continuous integration (CI), and GitLab CI includes DevOps automation tools.To utilize CI/CD services, GitHub requires other apps, such as Heroku.
Import and exportGitLab provides comprehensive instructions for importing and exporting data from external suppliers.Popular Git repositories do not have comprehensive documentation available on GitHub.
WorkflowGitLab workflow prioritizes reliability.GitHub workflow prioritizes speed.
Complete platformGitLab is a fully packed platform; it does not provide options for building a platform with various apps.GitHub’s marketplace offers 374 free apps in addition to a plethora of premium options.
Self-hosted installation for private serverYou can host a private GitLab version on a virtual computer by using a free GitLab plan.Private server hosting is limited to GitHub enterprise plans.
Open-sourcedIt is open source for the GitLab community edition.Unlike GitLab, GitHub is close-core.
Public repositoryGitLab enables developers to create a public repository.GitHub enables developers to leverage the unlimited free repository.
Project analysisProject development charts are available for users to review.Users can review the commit history but cannot get project analysis.

GitHub or GitLab: Which One Should You Use?

The choice between GitLab and GitHub relies on your organization’s needs and resources. Smaller to medium-sized setups may favor GitHub’s adaptability and diverse integrations, while larger enterprises might prioritize GitLab’s comprehensive features and robust security.

Consider these pointers when your app development company is looking to select the right tool:

Opt for GitLab if:

  • You’re part of a small team or startup seeking a free version with essential features.
  • Your team needs an all-in-one DevOps solution, including integrated pipelines and deployment tools.
  • Your organization prefers self-hosted deployment for complete control over infrastructure and data.
  • Specific security, compliance, or on-premises hosting is crucial.

Opt for GitHub if:

  • Your team heavily engages in community collaboration or open-source projects, benefiting from GitHub’s expansive developer community and social features.
  • You prioritize productivity with intuitive workflows and streamlined code review processes.
  • Transitioning to cloud-based infrastructure is a goal, eliminating self-hosting needs.
  • Reducing operational overhead and focusing on coding rather than infrastructure management is a priority.

Final Words!

To sum up, the decision between GitHub and GitLab, two robust systems for managing code and working together on software projects, comes down to your requirements and preferences. Consider the cost, user-friendliness, and various other factors discussed above to make the right choice.

Moreover, if you require help, contact a professional software development company like Codment. Our expert developers are here to guide you through every step of the way. Contact us to know more.