GitHub has been thought of for sometime as the open source community’s chosen repository, benefiting from what many would say is a dominate position.
It is, in fact, is more accurately known as a ‘web-based revision control service,’ in contrast to a simple code repository. This distinction is an acknowledgement of the site’s community activity, which continues to operate at a healthy level. The site has many projects where users continuously refine and develop their work, creating a sense of a lively environment.
The platform’s revision control features also recall the original Git open source code management package as developed by Linus Torvald. The site has grown to host in excess of three million different projects, one of which is the Linux kernel, and it also has public repositories for the likes of Microsoft Windows Azure, Mozilla, the Open Compute Project, Red Hat JBoss and Twitter.
The Bitbucket challenge
That platform may enjoy a dominant position in the market but Bitbucket is still significant. Both systems support Git, but Bitbucket also offers support for the Mercurial revision control system. It should be said, though, that neither site offers direct support for Subversion. The presence of Git and Mercurial support will be one factor that differentiates the two platforms and will guide the choice of many users. Those using Subversion will probably have to look at other factors. Both sites provide commercial user plans along with free user accounts and developers can work individually or in collaborative teams.
Making an informed choice
The fact that both of the platforms are able to co-exist is a welcome situation as it reinforces the culture of openness and choice for which the open source community is renowned. To make a choice between the two, users could look at the factors like the population of participating coders and number of active users. Clearly, Bitbucket would lose on these criteria but there are still other factors to consider. Users should compare the usability of project tracking features on each site and also the level of encryption offered. Other security features, such as the log-in functionality and user authentication tools, are also important.
Those who require lots of private repositories, meanwhile, could be swayed by Bitbucket’s unlimited offering.
In the end, it may just come down to which interface a user prefers, although both are excellent, and the free plans give the opportunity to decide which is more appealing to the way you work.