Source Code Hosting Services: GitHub and 3 Alternatives

It’s important to know where to store all that tons of coded information working on the new application. We believe any developer has been there considering the right place to which he could entrust all the data.

A start has been made with web hosting, then, software hosts appeared creating what we know now as SaaS (Software as a Service). And today, we’d like to discuss the third type of storing – source code hosting, how it differs, and what advantages it brings to the market.

Navigation
When to use source code hosting services
Cloud hosted vs. self-hosted providers
Source code hosts for your choice
GitHub
Bitbucket
GitLab
Launchpad

When to Use Source Code Hosting Service

Source code hosting is also called a source code repository. No matter what name you like more, at its core, there is a solution for storing a big amount of the source code. This type of hosting can be private or public – it depends on the final goal. As you might have guessed, such repositories are the most convenient platform for open source projects.

There are three main uses of source code hosting services in the app development:

1. Creating and managing a new application 

Firstly, you need to know that everything has been done in the right way. When you have all data gathered in one place, it’s easier to check the project from all sides and share it with other technicians. Source code hosting becomes an observation deck for the whole team.

2. 24/7 availability

This aspect concerns a free access to the application by both development team and wider audiences. The success of open source projects is based on the collective thinking, which would be impossible without this round-the-clock accessibility.

3. Security and backup

Any kind of a new software looks like a tempting candy for attackers from all over the world. Source repositories are the place which was created to supply you with the highest level of security. If you work on something really hard, you’d like to be sure you’re keeping secrets in the safe place. Hosting companies have dedicated their work to your serenity.

Cloud Hosted vs. Self-Hosted Providers

In this chapter, we’ll learn more on how exactly a company can use source code storing. For this purpose, we’ve turned to the research held by Bubbybuild. We’ll meet the most popular services– and some research results will probably surprise you.

When we mention source code hosting services, we got used thinking about GitHub firstly. But look at this – GitHub and Bitbucket are pretty close to one another in the cloudy world.

Cloud Hosting Providers

But don’t expect to see the same results in the self-hosted part of the survey. It turned out that app development teams trust GitLab the most if they’re looking for some private space.

Self-Hosting Services

And what eventually wins in the cloud vs. self-hosting battle? To know the answer, Bubbybuild used a wider range of companies with a various number of participants. It seems like clouding gained enough trust to become a popular solution.

Cloud Hosted vs. Self-Hosted

As a matter of fact, this is the reason why we chose cloud services for more careful consideration. Even though GitHub and Bitbucket are the leaders on the market, we’ll also make a mention of two more products. And don’t forget that a developer now faces a wide choice of similar instruments, and you have every chance to find exactly what you need.

Source Code Hosts for Your Choice

To know exactly what services to describe here, we used the Slant’s rating and the first four products mentioned there. GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab, and Launchpad – these are the most sought-after hosts as at the first quarter of 2017.

GitHub

This instrument needs no introduction for those who’s been working with at least several open source projects. GitHub has a great quality to offer with a 10-years experience. And we’ve seen the statistics – we deal with a real flagship here. Let’s figure out what makes it so special in the competitive environment.

GitHub Explore

GitHub Services

Platforms: Windows, iPhone/iPad, Mac, web-based.
Pricing: there are personal and organization pricing plans starting from $7/month up to $125/month.
“The way that you win in software is not about locking people into using your platform. It’s by building the best platform.” –co-founder and CEO of GitHub Tom Preston-Werner
Key features:
  • Joint code review
  • Issue and bug tracking are included
  • Allows working with 200 programming languages
  • Has an autocompleter
  • Allows a powerful integration
  • Support of 3D models
  • Search with more details (by country or programming language).

Bitbucket

This platform was founded a little later – in September 2010. But obviously, it didn’t stop Bitbucket from becoming the second best solution among code hosts. GitHub and Bitbucket go almost toe-to-toe, and this is a reason for numerous disputes to arise.

Bitbucket HipChat

Bitbucket Jira

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, web-based.
Pricing: there is a free plan for small projects (up to 5 users). There are also bigger plans for growing teams and enterprises (up to $16000/year).
Key features:
  • Pull requests
  • Bitbucket Pipelines (allow creating flexible builds for concrete repositories)
  • Unlimited space on the disk
  • Mercurial and Git revision control systems
  • Integration with Akismat and Google Analytics
  • Sending invitations to a project with emailing
  • Wiki (a place to store documents, often used as a home page).

GitLab

There should be lots of reasons why the tool built in Ukraine is now used by NASA. This world famous organization along with Sony and IBM surely know what they are doing choosing GitLab as their host. Initially created as a free platform, Gitlab now has the full range of services for individual users and big enterprises.

GitLab Community

GitLab Services

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, web-based.
Pricing: there are free options for both cloud-hosted and self-hosted projects. Cloud-hosted services for bigger companies cost $149/month.
Key features:
  • Snippet support (sharing a piece of a code instead of the whole project)
  • Protected branches (allow setting higher borders so that only certain users could edit the code)
  • User-friendly interface with which a user can manage projects, groups, and users from one place
  • The “Work in Progress” status (lets other users know that the code is unfinished)
  • Ability to attach files
  • Unlimited repositories even for free plans
  • Importing function (from GitHub, Bitbucket, etc.)

Launchpad

Launchpad Services

Launchpad combines host features with some other useful instruments to make a developing process more comfortable. It means that the platform is a build system itself with an easier deployment process: users just add a PPA to the source.list.file. At the same time, Launchpad supports three most famous control systems: Git, SVN, and Mercurial.

Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, web-based.
Pricing: free
Key features:
  • Code hosting with Bazaar
  • Bug tracking
  • Translation functions (by the platform’ community)
  • Specification tracking
  • Mailing list
  • Ubuntu operating system for building and hosting
  • 24/7 community support

Final Comparison in Tables

You’ll find plenty of information on any of these platforms on the Internet. No to get lost in this deep blue sea, we suggest focusing on basic features firstly. We’ve decided not to mention the feature of code review in the table as it’s a required condition in our discussion.

Name

Bug tracking

Wiki

Mailing list

Translation system

Forum

GitHub

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Bitbucket

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

GitLab

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Launchpad

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

And further, there is a list of three version control systems which are popular in the software management.

Name

Git

SVN

Mercurial

GitHub

Yes

Yes

No

Bitbucket

Yes

No

Yes

GitLab

Yes

No

No

Launchpad

Yes

Yes

Yes

The Variety of Welcoming Hosts

Source code hosting services look like cozy hotels for you and your project. To make you much comfortable, such instruments are being constantly improved with all new features and integrations. It all ends up in a tendency of cloud hosting and open source activities.

We made a review of the four most popular code hosts that made the developer’s life so much easier: GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab, and Launchpad. It took about ten years to improve a hosting model and to give place for lots of different source code platforms. Nowadays, these implements have become multitasking tools making the development world a really global phenomenon.

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