Gitlab vs GitHub: A Comparison

Gitlab vs GitHub: A Comparison

Knowing which software is best for your needs is crucial when wanting to use a single application for any project planning and source code management. There are many different ones from which to choose, but here we will take a deeper look at Gitlab and GitHub, and how they compare overall.

First, understanding that both Gitlab and GitHub are web-based Git repositories is crucial to understanding what makes them different from others on the market. Git, at the core, is essentially a software management component that allows for the user to track changes made to not just the software, and programs used, but also any information contained within.

By having this capability, Git safeguards that no code overlaps or conflicts with itself, plus it allows for changes to be made within the code without the programmer having to rework the entire base code. Without this version control system, the idea of collaborative work within a team, with frequent modifications and any technical needs, would be virtually impossible.

Git allows for all changes to be kept within a repository, this allows for a more streamlined approach, the ability to code more than one project at a time, and can greatly reduce human error as it is easy to revert back to an old code or clear a coding mistake.

Each developer creates work within their own branch, or repository, apart from the master branch; these individual branches can be merged together whenever needed. Git allows for other services and tools to be integrated with it, which is what makes this control system so universally appealing to developers.

Gitlab, specifically, advertises itself as a complete DevOps platform, one that due to the fact it delivers in a single application, can change the way software is developed. Its goal is to shorten the systems’ development life cycle, (SDLC) but will not sacrifice the quality of the end product.

GitHub, on the other hand, is a development platform that allows for projects to be stored by developers. It has access to many features, task management, bug tracking, wikis, and more. It allows its users to have access to social networking-like features; it is viewed more as social coding.


Let’s focus on some of the key similarities they both share:

  • Both offer a highly supportive community of developers on each platform. This means that there is no shortage of updates and maintenance, key for the everchanging world of coding.
  • Multiple issues can be assigned at a time, which means multiple collaborators may work on a single project at once.
  • Tracking is available with both platforms, which includes the ability to enable status changes and the capability to assign an owner to each issue that is being worked on.
  • Bug reports can be sent immediately to both platforms.
  • Labels are used in both. They can help to categorize any issues, make a request for a merge of branches, and can help immensely with tracking all information.
  • Descriptions of issues and merge requests can also be added simply by selecting a template and adding a description.
  • Merge requests need to be approved by one or more people involved. There is a pre-determined list of who is allowed to approve the request for a merge.
  • Each platform uses a Wiki that is built directly into each project, it is a separate system and is seen as a separate Git repository.
  • In either platform, there is the capability of its users to not only collaborate on a source branch but also allow for it to be edited into a fork (a copy of the original). This is a big deal as it lets the maintainers make small changes before any merge happens.


Some of the differences can be quite intricate and depending on your needs, you may want to research each platform further. But here is a brief summary that may help you choose between the two:

  • GitLab’s permission is based on roles, GitHub allows developers to grant read or write access to various repositories.
  • GitLab offers inner sourcing and internal repositories compared to GitHub.
  • While GitHub is limited with regards to importing projects and issues from sources, it does have a tool known as GitHub Importer to import any data. GitLab can export wikis, uploaded projects and repositories, issues, etc., whereas GitHub is more restricted in its exports.
  • GitHub requires a third-party integration which requires an external application, GitLab is described as a seamless deployment, no third-party needed.
  • GitLab features monthly updates with new features and improvements.
  • GitLab allows developers to move issues between projects, this includes links, comments, history, all of which can be copied and referenced to within the original issue and any future issues.

Ultimately, there are more features that vary slightly with each platform, but you may want to keep in mind that Gitlab can be run on your own servers and provides unlimited private repositories for free. And while GitHub does not offer them for free, it does provide a full history of a thread of comments, compared to Gitlab which does not.

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