I love GitHub. If it wasn’t for GitHub, I don’t think I (or anyone else) would use Git (in fact, I would almost certainly be using Mercurial). The fact that GitHub does exist, however, is a blessing for the open source community, and on the whole, has made my professional life much easier – for example, I’m currently watching 135 open sourced repositories on GitHub, at least three of which I use on a daily basis, and more than a few I use as submodules in other projects.
But what if you’re not working on an open source project? Sure, you can buy access to private repositories from GitHub - but if you have a team of five or less, I’m here to tell you to put your wallet away.
Bitbucket for teh win
Allow me to introduce you to Bitbucket, which started life as Mercurial’s answer to GitHub, and served as a hub for the Mercurial community. I used the Bitbucket service, for a time, during my Mercurial days at Propeller, as they offered private repositories for free.
I remember at the time that this caused me much dilemma, as I knew the de-facto industry standard was becoming Git, and was keen on switching away from Mercurial for this reason, but could not afford GitHub.
This all changed on the 3rd October 2011 when Bitbucket announced support for Git.
Is it any good?
Bitbucket works in much the same way as GitHub does, and so far as I can tell, supports mostly all the same features. For example, each repository supports a wiki and issue tracking system, full history of past commits, support for pull requests, integration with a large number of services, and proably a whole ton of other git-based goodies that I’ve not even begun to explore.
They also support submodules hosted at in other locations (such as GitHub), a feature that I take full advantage of on almost all of my own projects (), so you don’t need to worry about losing this feature.
Keen on taking business from their rivals, BitBucket also supports the ability to import repositories directory from GitHub, Google Code, Subversion, et al. meaning that switching to BitBucket is an easy process.
(And no, as my old work colleague Sheepy asked me, it doesn’t do anything funny like ‘covert the repositories into mercurial then back into git’.)
Value for money
Bitbucket makes its money by charging for the maximum number of people that can access each repository, rather than on the number of repositories you own. This means, for example, if you’re in a small web design firm with a large throughput, (such as Ghost Design) it could work out more cost effective than the competition, without any loss of functionality.
So, If you’re not yet using any form of remote repository for your private projects, then give Bitbucket a go., Whereas if you’re already using GitHub, a couple of quick sums will tell you if you’re better off with BitBucket, and with no more than a few minutes importing your existing repositories, you’ll be up and running before you know it.
I did win a t-shirt from Bitbucket as part of their spooning promotion, but it takes a lot more than a free t-shirt to buy me. I’ve posted this message because I believe that Bitbucket offer a good service, and I want to give credit where credit is due.