BitBucket Versus GitHub

When it comes to version control systems, GIT is the standard today beating out SVN and other systems handily. And the home of the most hosted repositories? GitHub, the clear leader. In fact when many people think open source, they think GitHub. For professional teams however, there is another game in town and that’s BitBucket.

BitBucket is owned by Atlassian, the same Australian software maker that created Jira, and other related SAAS applications. Their entire suite is highly tailored to software development teams, and some would call their leading tools industry standards. In the world of project management, there are still a massive sea of options. But for developers, the combination of Jira and other tools is so common that it’s a safe bet when integrating new developers into a team that they will have experience using them.

Personally I value simplicity and easy of use over power when it comes to software. For that reason I actually don’t like Jira that much, it’s such a complex system to configure. And it just feels like overkill for most projects. Particularly annoying are the complex permissions, which might be important if you’re building satellite guidance systems for the military, yet too fine-grained to fit most website or plugin projects. Now going back to BitBucket, you can use BitBucket as a stand-alone tool just for repo management. And at GoldHat we currently do that for all our private repos. Why? Very simply because it’s free up until the cap of 5 users and with unlimited numbers of repos. That’s very generous, and unmatched by GitHub which offers no private repos on it’s free plans. We’ve only once had to buy a monthly BitBucket plan because we went over the limit of 5 developers, and it cost $10/month for the smallest plan. At the time we were also using Jira, so combined we were spending about $10/month for these tools.

GitHub is where we host all our open source plugins. Where GitHub has a clear edge in my view is their issues. And recently they’ve added projects, and though there isn’t a lot of functionality associated with adding a project it does give you the capability to organize issues by projects. Combine that with the wiki, and you’ve basically got everything you need to manage a project including a place to put docs. That seems to be the vision for GitHub. Whereas BitBucket’s vision tends to be split between making BitBucket keep pace with GitHub, yet also giving incentives to buy Jira and other products. In other words I don’t see quite the same focus from BitBucket.

We’re still debating whether to buy the GitHub paid plan, which starts at $9/month for small teams or continue to host private repos at BitBucket. The main motivation to do this would be simplicity, not having our repos split across 2 systems would make things like managing access keys easier. Saving a bit of time on management can mean a lot when you’re incorporation new devs into a project.

If you’re a site owner, here is a tip for you. If and whenever possible, get your own repository hosting account and ask your developer(s) to work from it. It is a safeguard against any unscrupulous behavior from developers, and let’s face it web and software development is not a regulated industry. Too many stories abound of problems involving ownership of assets including domain names, sites and codebases. We strongly advise companies to take ownership of all the vital components of their site/applications from the domain name, to hosting and finally repos. The idea that it’s “too technical” to manage these type of accounts is really bogus, these are all business services that come with support from the various vendors. So while it may have been true once that these processes were difficult for the average business owner, it definitely isn’t the case today. You should find it easy enough to handle, and once you have your account setup certainly you can give the highest levels of access to the developers and project managers on your team.