GitHub and GitLab are popular programmer tools built on the Git framework that help developers collaborate, manage code repositories, streamline workflows, and more. This guide will break down GitHub and GitLab in terms of their features, pros, cons, and pricing so you can choose the better fit for your needs.
- GitHub: ideal for those seeking a developer tool with a large community for support, extensive documentation, seamless integrations, and a user-friendly interface.
- GitLab: a great option for those seeking an all-in-one software development solution with project management and built-in CI/CD and DevOps workflows, self-hosting, and more control.
GitHub is a version control and collaboration platform. It is ideal for developers needing efficient code management and engagement with a large, loyal community.
Features of GitHub
Some of GitHub’s top features include:
- Repository hosting
- Issue tracking
- Code search
- Pull requests
- Third-party integrations
With GitHub, developers can create and host Git repositories for version control, codebase management, and better code collaboration, as programmers can easily share code and work on codebases together. It has a built-in issue tracker for managing and tracking bugs, tasks, and feature requests, plus has mentions, comments, and discussions alongside the codebase for convenient collaboration.
The code search function lets developers quickly find snippets, files, and references in a code repository, and pull requests facilitate faster code review and foster even more code collaboration among the team. GitHub also offers seamless integrations with many third-party developer tools and services, including notables like Slack, CircleCI, Jira, and ZenHub.
Pros of GitHub
GitHub’s pros include:
- Large open-source community
- Seamless integrations with popular developer tools
- Team collaboration
- Extensive documentation and support
GitHub’s large and loyal following makes it easier for users of the programmer tool to collaborate with other developers, share code, get support when needed, and network with other IT professionals. It integrates seamlessly with plenty of third-party developer tools to extend its functionality with deployment automations, code quality, and code testing. GitHub is one of the top collaboration tools for coding, especially for remote developers, thanks to its CodeSpaces development environment. And its documentation is tough to beat when you need added info via tutorials, guides, resources, and videos.
Cons of GitHub
GitHub’s cons include:
- Learning curve
- Cost for private repositories
- Limited self-hosting
- Relies on integrations for some features
Beginners may have trouble getting used to GitHub, as it has a steep learning curve and can seem overwhelming at first, especially regarding what some call “unintuitive” commands. Individual developers or small teams looking for added privacy may experience some sticker shock when paying for private repositories through GitHub. Another con or concern some have with GitHub is its lack of self-hosting options. This can be a downer for teams looking for complete control over their data and infrastructure. Lastly, GitHub’s heavy reliance on third-party integrations can be seen as a negative for teams seeking built-in functionality.
GitHub is offered via three pricing plans:
- Free: Basic features at no cost.
- Team: $3.67 per user, per month.
- Enterprise: $19.25 per user, per month. Free trial available.
GitHub’s Free plan was built for individuals and software development teams with limited budgets needing basic features. It offers 2,000 CI/CD minutes per month, 500MB of Packages storage, unlimited public and private repositories, and community support.
The Team plan is geared toward individuals and software development teams needing advanced collaboration features. It offers 3,000 CI/CD minutes per month, 2GB of Packages storage, access to GitHub Codespaces, multiple reviewers in pull requests, code owners, required viewers, protected branches, draft pull requests, pages, wikis, and web-based support.
Enterprise comes with a free trial and is built for organizations needing flexible deployment and enhanced security and compliance. It offers 50,000 CI/CD minutes per month, 50GB of Packages storage, user provisioning, single sign-on, GitHub Connect, advanced auditing, audit log API, and an Enterprise Account for central management.
GitHub also offers the following add-ons:
- GitHub Copilot: Starts at $10 per month after a 30-day trial.
- Codespaces: Starts at $0.18 per hour of compute and $0.07 per GB of storage.
- Large File Storage: $5 per month for 50GB of storage and 50GB of bandwidth.
- GitHub Advanced Security: $49 per active committer, per month.
Read: GitHub Issues Review
GitLab is a version control, CI/CD, and collaboration platform ideal for developers looking to improve communication and streamline their development lifecycle.
Features of GitLab
Some of GitLab’s top features as a developer collaboration and coding tool include:
- Integrated CI/CD tools
- Merge requests
- Issue and bug tracking
- Project management built-in
- Pipeline automation
Developers can use GitLab to automate the testing, building, and deployment of their code changes thanks to its integrated CI/CD pipelines. Its merge requests simplify code review and promote team collaboration by letting developers propose changes, start conversations, and merge code after approval.
GitLab offers comprehensive issue tracking, plus project management capabilities for tracking progress, organizing tasks, allocating resources, and enhancing communication. Its Auto DevOps feature lets teams focus more on coding and less on complex pipeline management by automating several stages of the development lifecycle, such as testing, building, and deployment.
Pros of GitLab
GitLab’s strengths include:
- Hosting flexibility
- Free private repositories
- Integrated CI/CD
- All-in-one development platform
GitLab offers hosting flexibility with all of its plans, allowing developers to choose between SaaS for minimizing technical setup and maintenance or self-managed setups for more control. Unlimited free private repositories are another great feature, and the automations developers can enjoy from the programmer tool’s CI/CD capabilities and DevOps workflows make life much easier. GitLab’s all-in-one nature that merges several DevSecOps capabilities for maximum productivity and minimum context switching into one developer tool may be its most significant plus of all.
Cons of GitLab
GitLab’s weaknesses include:
- User interface
- Performance issues
- Learning curve
- Limited integrations
GitLab’s user interface has been noted for being non-intuitive, outdated, and even sluggish at times compared to similar developer tools. Performance can suffer when dealing with bulky CI/CD workloads or large repositories. While having many integrated features is a plus, so much functionality may seem overwhelming to beginners. Thus, GitLab has a steep learning curve for some. Some users have also expressed a desire for more third-party integrations.
GitLab lets software development teams pick between SaaS and self-managed options. The developer tool is offered via four pricing plans:
- Free: Essential features at no cost.
- Premium: $29 per user, per month.
- Ultimate: $99 per user, per month.
- GitLab Dedicated: Custom pricing.
The Free plan offers essential features for up to five individual developers, including 5GB of storage, 10GB monthly transfer, and 400 monthly compute minutes. The Premium plan is for software development teams needing enhanced coordination and team productivity. It comes with 50GB of storage, 100GB monthly transfer, 10,000 monthly compute minutes, merge requests with approval rules, advanced CI/CD, enterprise Agile planning, code ownership, protected branches, and support.
The Ultimate plan offers organization-wide compliance, planning, and security. It includes 250GB of storage, 500GB monthly transfer, 50,000 monthly compute minutes, security dashboards, container and dependency scanning, free guest users, value stream management, multi-level epics, dynamic application security testing, and suggested reviewers.
GitLab Dedicated requires a commitment of 1,000 seats. It is fully managed by GitLab and includes enterprise-grade security, full source code and data isolation, data residency, and regular upgrade cadence.
You can learn more by reading our GitLab Project Management Review.
What to Look For in Version Control and Collaboration Software
When shopping for version control software or code collaboration tools like GitHub and GitLab, look for reviews on:
- Customer and community support
Also look at the interface to ensure whatever you choose is reliable and easy to use. Check to ensure there is a free version or free trial to try the software without having to invest any money. And, if opting for a paid plan, make sure it fits your budget.
Features to look for include:
- Collaboration (pull requests, code reviews, etc.)
- A robust version control system like Git
- Seamless integration with CI/CD pipelines and other developer tools and services
- Access control and security
- Reporting and analytics
Scalability should be considered for teams with growing projects, as should hosting options for minimal maintenance or added control (cloud-based versus self-hosting).
Final Thoughts on GitHub Versus GitLab
Both GitHub and GitLab are solid collaboration and coding tools. Which is the best fit for you? If you want to dabble in open-source development and prefer a large community of developers for support and resources, unlimited private repositories, seamless third-party integrations for added functionality, a superb coding collaboration tool, and speed, choose GitHub. And if you want built-in CI/CD, issue tracking, customization, advanced security, project management, and reliability, choose GitLab.
Now that you have reviewed GitHub and GitLab, you may be curious about other developer, collaboration, and project management tools. We have several other product round-ups to help your flesh out your developer toolkit, which we highlight below: