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GitLab vs GitHub: Choosing the right platform

PostsSoftware development
Shelley Mason

Shelley Mason

June 26, 2024

Both GitLab and GitHub offer robust features, seamless collaboration, and extensive integrations. But which one is the right fit for your project?

Whether you’re a seasoned developer leading a team of professionals or an aspiring coder just diving into the world of software development, selecting the right code management platform can help your team work efficiently, minimize errors, and deliver high-quality software on time.

On the flip side, opting for the wrong version control system can lead to inefficient collaboration, code conflicts, data loss, and hindered project progress, resulting in wasted time, increased costs, and compromised software quality.

In this comparative analysis, we’ll dissect GitLab and GitHub offerings, exploring both platforms’ strengths and weaknesses so you can make an informed decision that aligns with your development objectives. Let’s dive in.

What is GitHub?

GitHub got its start in 2008 and is now one of the go-to platforms for Git repositories. Microsoft acquired the platform in 2018, and since then, it’s only grown in popularity, especially within the open-source community. It’s known for its ever-expanding features and integrations.

Developers love GitHub for its seamless experience in tracking changes, managing branches, and collaborating on code. Central to GitHub’s appeal is its dynamic community and marketplace, where developers can find, share, and contribute to open-source projects.

If you’re looking for advanced security and compliance features, GitHub Enterprise is a solid choice and offers competitive pricing compared to GitLab’s premium plans.

One of the standout features of GitHub is its efficient issue tracking system, which helps teams organize tasks, prioritize work, and communicate effectively. Its pull request mechanism streamlines code review and its project boards, Wikis, and integrations with third-party tools allow teams to manage projects of varying complexities and scales.

What is GitLab?

GitLab came onto the scene in 2011, a few years after GitHub. While not as renowned for open-source projects, GitLab really shines when it comes to DevOps and CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery). It sets itself apart by being a comprehensive platform for projects, aiming to reduce the need for third-party integrations, unlike GitHub.

GitLab offers a full suite of tools for planning, coding, testing, deploying, and monitoring software projects. Its built-in issue tracking system helps teams manage tasks efficiently, and the CI/CD pipelines automate building, testing, and deploying code changes. The platform’s active community and extensive documentation make it easier to find solutions to common issues.

With features like code review, merge requests, and code quality analysis, GitLab makes collaboration and maintaining code integrity effortless. Its integrated platform covers the entire DevOps workflow, from project inception to production oversight, making it a top choice for teams looking for an all-in-one solution for software development and deployment.

Features: GitLab vs GitHub

While GitHub and GitLab both serve as version control platforms, each has its own flavor when it comes to features and functionality.

GitHub is often seen as a social coding platform, putting a strong emphasis on collaboration and community. On the other hand, GitLab positions itself as a comprehensive DevOps platform, covering the entire software development lifecycle.

Collaboration tools, project management features, CI/CD capabilities, and third-party integrations are all crucial factors in deciding which platform is best for your team’s code management needs.

Let’s delve into the standout features of each platform to see how they stack up.

GitLab features

  • Issue tracking: GitLab’s issue tracking system makes it easy to capture, prioritize, and resolve tasks, bugs, and feature requests within your projects.
  • Built-in code review: With the platform’s integrated code review, you can seamlessly provide feedback and iterate on code changes right within the platform.
  • CI/CD pipelines: GitLab’s built-in CI/CD pipelines handle continuous integration, testing, and deployment, making the development process smoother.
  • Project management: For project management, GitLab offers tools to prioritize tasks, allocate resources, and assign responsibilities, complete with tracking, code review, Wikis, and more. Features like time tracking, managing group milestones, and issue tracking help keep everything organized.
  • Importing: You can easily import code repositories from popular platforms like Bitbucket or Google Code, bringing all your codebases together in GitLab. The Community Edition offers an open-source repository platform that teams of all sizes can use.
  • Repository maintenance: GitLab simplifies repository maintenance on servers with intuitive tools and workflows, so your development team can focus on building great software without worrying about complex maintenance tasks.
  • Enhanced security and permissions: GitLab’s robust user interface and authentication features make security a top priority. Built-in code scanning, container scanning, and vulnerability management tools offer enhanced branch protection and user permissions, giving you granular control over access to repositories and code modifications.
  • Self-hosted GitLab server: Running a self-hosted GitLab server gives you more control over your repositories, enhanced security, and customization options. It allows for scalability without storage and CI/CD limits, and you can qualify for the GitLab Open Source program for free features.

GitHub features

  • Collaboration tools: GitHub makes teamwork easy with features like pull requests, code reviews, and discussion threads, allowing team members to collaborate efficiently.
  • Extensive marketplace: GitHub’s marketplace offers a wide range of popular tools and services, making it simple to integrate them into your workflow and enhance your development process.
  • Social coding community: Developers can share code, contribute to open-source projects, and connect with like-minded individuals, creating a collaborative and supportive environment.
  • GitHub Actions: Users can automate workflows with GitHub Actions, empowering you to build, test, and deploy your code directly from your repositories, streamlining your development process.
  • Project management: GitHub provides basic project management tools like project boards and milestones. These features help teams organize and track their work, ensuring projects stay on schedule and deadlines are met.
  • Customizable labels and milestones: Project management can easily be tailored to your team’s specific needs with customizable labels and milestones, providing clarity and organization throughout the development process.
  • Branch comparison functionality: Users can easily compare branches to see changes and differences, making collaboration and code review more efficient with GitHub’s branch comparison tool.
  • Website hosting: Host and publish websites directly from your GitHub repositories, making it easy to showcase your projects to a wider audience.
  • Syntax highlighting: GitHub provides syntax highlighting for enhanced code readability, making it easier for developers to review and understand code changes.
  • Integration with third-party APIs: Expand GitHub’s functionality by integrating with third-party APIs for cloud hosting and bug tracking, bringing additional tools and services into your development workflow.
  • CI tools and integration: GitHub’s continuous integration (CI) tools allow for automatic building, staging, deploying, testing, and scaling of apps, all within the platform, ensuring smooth interaction with your GitHub repository.

Advantages: GitLab vs GitHub


  • Open-source licensing: GitLab’s open-source licensing model allows for greater flexibility and customization, making it an attractive option for organizations looking to tailor their development environment to specific needs without incurring additional costs.
  • Self-hosting: With GitLab, you can host your repositories yourself, regardless of your plan. This means you have full control over your infrastructure and data, which is great for organizations needing tight security or compliance.
  • User-friendly package distribution: GitLab makes it easy to share and manage project dependencies with its user-friendly package distribution services. It’s designed to streamline development and foster smooth collaboration among team members.
  • Supported CI/CD: GitLab provides comprehensive support for the CI/CD lifecycle, enabling automated testing, building, and deployment processes. This helps teams deliver software faster and more reliably, improving overall productivity and efficiency.
  • Code maintenance: GitLab simplifies code maintenance with features like integrated code review, issue tracking, and Wiki documentation. This centralizes project management tasks, making it easier for developers to collaborate and maintain code quality.


  • Streamlined documentation sharing: GitHub simplifies collaboration by enabling easy sharing and updating of project documentation.
  • Solid codebase structure: GitHub provides a stable foundation for open-source projects, facilitating organized code management.
  • Efficient repository search: Quick and advanced search features in GitHub expedite finding specific code elements, boosting productivity.
  • Seamless third-party integration: GitHub swiftly integrates with various third-party tools, enhancing project functionality.
  • Versatile version control support: GitHub offers extensive support for version control systems like SVN, HG, and TFS, accommodating diverse workflows.
  • Flexible pricing options: GitHub’s combination of free and paid services caters to individual developers and enterprises, ensuring accessibility for all users.

Disadvantages: GitLab vs GitHub


  • Interface speed: Users may experience slower interface performance compared to other platforms, potentially impacting productivity and user experience, especially in larger projects or organizations with high activity levels.
  • Bug management: GitLab’s bug management process may require additional effort and attention throughout the software development lifecycle, potentially leading to increased administrative overhead and complexity for development teams.
  • Lack of software development features: GitLab may lack some advanced enterprise-level software development features found in other platforms, limiting its suitability for larger organizations with complex development requirements.
  • Repositories: Users may encounter common issues such as repository corruption or data loss, which can disrupt workflows and require time-consuming troubleshooting and resolution efforts.


  • Limited support for REST/RESTful API: GitHub’s support for REST and RESTful API development may be limited compared to other platforms, potentially restricting the flexibility and scalability of projects relying heavily on these technologies.
  • Costly private repositories: While GitHub offers free public repositories, the cost of private repositories can be prohibitive for individuals or smaller organizations with limited budgets, potentially restricting access to essential features and collaboration tools.
  • Development functionalities: GitHub may have some limitations in development functionalities, such as project management tools or code review capabilities, which may not fully meet the needs of all development teams or projects.
  • Cost of features: While GitHub offers free access to certain features and services, some advanced functionalities or collaboration tools may require a paid subscription, potentially adding to the overall cost of using the platform.
  • Space limitations: GitHub imposes space limitations on repositories, which can become a constraint for projects with large files or extensive version histories, potentially requiring users to upgrade to higher-tier plans or seek alternative solutions.

Similarities: GitLab vs GitHub

Now that we’ve established the backstories of both platforms, let’s explore their commonalities.

Collaboration and project management

Both GitHub and GitLab facilitate seamless collaboration and streamline project management. From enabling code reviews for smooth feedback loops to providing robust issue tracking for task organization, they’ve got your back. Moreover, they offer versatile project boards to help you steer the ship and monitor progress, whether you prefer the structured approach of Scrum or the fluidity of Kanban.

Hosting static websites

With the rise of static websites in recent years, the demand for hosting services tailored to these sites has surged. GitHub and GitLab address this need with their respective offerings, GitHub Pages and GitLab Pages. This means you can now bypass third-party deployment services, often pricier, and host your static websites directly alongside the code.

Feature-rich free plans

Both platforms cater to the requirements of individual developers and small teams by providing extensive free features. This includes unlimited repositories, both public and private, along with additional perks. GitHub offers unlimited CI minutes for public repositories, whereas GitLab includes 50,000 minutes for public repositories with some advanced CI features excluded from the free tier.

  • Project management tools like GitHub Issues, Milestones, and Projects are accessible on GitHub’s free tier, whereas GitLab does not include project management in its free offering.
  • Package hosting is complimentary for public repositories on both platforms, with GitLab providing 10GB of free storage for the entire repository and Large File Storage (LFS), while GitHub offers a 500MB limit for private repositories.
  • Security features differ between the two platforms, with GitHub providing code and secret scanning, dependency review, and dependabot alerts on public repositories. These security features are not included in GitLab’s free tier.
  • While both platforms have limitations on more advanced features tailored for enterprise users, these features are generally not missed by smaller teams or individual developers.

Open source abilities

Both GitHub and GitLab excel in supporting open-source projects with robust features such as code reviews and issue tracking. However, GitHub offers additional open-source-focused functionalities that GitLab lacks, such as discussions and Wikis, facilitating easy communication and idea exchange before implementation.

While both platforms suffice for internal team collaboration, GitHub is the preferred choice for those aiming to expand their projects within the open-source community.

Continuous Integration (CI)

While both platforms incorporate CI capabilities, GitLab provides a more extensive option, thanks to its holistic approach as a DevOps platform. GitLab offers a range of features like feature flags, canary/incremental deployments, and more. GitHub initially lacked CI functionality but later introduced GitHub Actions. This feature allows users to create custom CI pipelines and access third-party options through their marketplace.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

With the AI boom of 2023, both platforms have integrated AI tools into their offerings to support and empower developers. GitHub presents Copilot, while GitLab offers Duo. These AI solutions share similar functionalities, including real-time code suggestions and interactive assistance for problem-solving. In terms of pricing, GitHub’s Copilot comes at a slightly lower cost of $10 per user/month for individual use compared to GitLab’s $19 per user/month pricing.

Differences: GitLab vs GitHub

Both GitLab and GitHub are fantastic for managing code repositories; however, they do have their own unique features. Let’s dive into the main factors that set them apart.


While both platforms center around Git, they diverge in their recommended approaches to managing software projects. GitHub promotes a streamlined approach, emphasizing agility and swift adaptation. Here, feature branches branch off from the main production branch, ready for individual merging once finalized.

In contrast, GitLab advocates for stability and reliability. This method incorporates staging branches, such as “pre-production” and “release” branches, ensuring thorough testing before promoting changes to production. Unlike GitHub’s flow, feature branches are merged into staging branches for evaluation before deployment.

It’s important to note that both platforms offer flexibility, allowing users to adopt the flow that best suits their team or project needs. These flows serve as recommendations rather than strict guidelines enforced by the platforms themselves.

Third-party integrations and marketplace

An intriguing disparity between the two platforms lies in their approach to integrations. GitLab positions itself as an all-inclusive platform, aiming to provide comprehensive solutions without heavy reliance on third-party tools. While they do support some integrations, the focus remains on offering an integrated experience within the platform.

GitHub opts for a different strategy, prioritizing its core offerings while fostering an expansive ecosystem of integrations through its marketplace. With over 800 integrations and apps, along with more than 21,000 custom GitHub Actions, users have the flexibility to enhance functionality according to their project requirements.

Pricing: GitLab vs GitHub

Money matters, especially when it comes to the value you’re getting from the product you’re investing in. While GitHub and GitLab may appear to have similar pricing structures at first glance, there are nuances that deserve your attention.


Let’s break down GitHub’s pricing plans to see what each tier offers:

Free plan: GitHub’s basic plan is free for individuals and teams of less than 15 members. It includes unlimited storage, three project views, access to iOS and Android mobile apps, and unlimited projects.

Team: GitHub’s paid plans start at $4 per user per month for Teams, providing additional features such as advanced project management tools, dashboards, and inviting unlimited free guests.

Enterprise: For $21 per user per month, GitHub’s Enterprise plan includes user provisioning & de-provisioning (SCIM) and priority support. Pricing is available upon consultation with the company.


Now, let’s take a closer look at GitLab’s pricing options:

Free tier: Perfect for personal projects, it’s $0 per user/month with 5GB storage, 10GB transfer, and 400 compute minutes per month, supporting up to 5 users per group.

Premium tier: Designed for scaling organizations at $29 per user/month, offering features like Code Ownership and Advanced CI/CD, along with 50GiB storage, 100GiB transfer, and 10,000 compute minutes per month.

Ultimate tier: Tailored for enterprises, priced upon request, it includes advanced security features, Agile planning tools, extensive storage, transfer, and compute resources, plus the option for free guest users.

Which is better: GitHub or GitLab?

In the showdown between GitHub and GitLab, features play a crucial role in determining the best fit for your team. GitLab’s comprehensive DevOps platform excels in project management, CI/CD pipelines, and security, while GitHub’s social coding platform shines in collaboration, integrations, and community engagement.

Each platform brings its own strengths and weaknesses to the table, catering to different needs and preferences. Choose GitLab if you prioritize an all-in-one DevOps platform, value built-in CI/CD capabilities, and seek a self-hosted or SaaS solution with strong security features. Opt for GitHub if you prioritize community collaboration, seamless integrations, and social coding features, and prefer a platform with a vast ecosystem and extensive marketplace.

What about Backlog?

While GitHub and GitLab excel in version control and project management, Backlog offers a holistic solution that combines version control, bug tracking, and project management functionalities in one platform. With its intuitive interface, robust features, and dedicated support, Backlog empowers teams to streamline their development efforts and achieve their goals more efficiently.

With its user-friendly interface, Agile support, and customizable features, Backlog empowers teams to streamline their workflows, boost productivity, and deliver exceptional results. Here are some of its stand-out features:

Streamlined project management

Backlog simplifies project management with intuitive features designed to enhance team collaboration and productivity. From task tracking and issue management to Gantt charts and burndown charts, Backlog provides a centralized hub for teams to organize, prioritize, and monitor project progress effectively.

Version control and Git integration

Like GitHub and GitLab, Backlog offers robust version control capabilities powered by Git. Teams can seamlessly manage code repositories, collaborate on code reviews, and track changes with ease. With Git integration, developers can maintain code quality and streamline the development process within the familiar environment of Backlog.

Agile and Scrum support

Backlog caters to Agile methodologies, providing support for Scrum and Kanban workflows. Teams can plan sprints, manage user stories, and track progress using agile boards and customizable workflows. With features like burndown charts and velocity tracking, Backlog empowers teams to iterate efficiently and deliver high-quality results.

Collaboration tools

In addition to code management, Backlog offers a range of collaboration tools to facilitate communication and knowledge sharing among team members. Features like Wikis, file sharing, and issue comments foster collaboration and ensure that everyone stays on the same page throughout the project lifecycle.

Customization and scalability

Backlog is highly customizable, allowing teams to tailor the platform to their unique requirements. Whether you’re a small startup or a large enterprise, Backlog scales effortlessly to accommodate teams of all sizes. With flexible pricing plans and a pay-as-you-go model, teams can scale their usage according to their needs and budget. Ready to revolutionize your development workflow? 

The right version control software for your team

While GitLab’s strengths lie in its DevOps capabilities and suite of tools for project management, CI/CD pipelines, and security measures, GitHub is great for social coding, fostering a vibrant community and its rich ecosystem of integrations.

Whether you’re seeking a platform for version control, project management, or collaboration, understanding which platform is better suited to your needs is essential for optimizing collaboration, streamlining workflows, and ensuring the success of your projects. 

Ultimately, the best choice really comes down to what your team needs, how you like to work, and where you see your projects heading. If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, Backlog might just be the perfect fit. It’s got everything — comprehensive project management features, an intuitive interface, and seamless integration with version control. With Backlog, you can handle task management, bug tracking, and version control all in one place, making it a standout option to boost your productivity and simplify your project workflows.

Whichever platform you choose, embracing modern version control practices is key for delivering high-quality software in today’s fast-paced development landscape. Happy coding!



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