Sunday, December 04, 2011

Why I prefer BitBucket over GitHub

UPDATE 07/01/2012: Thanks to Atlassian for the free BitBucket T-Shirt! :)

I don't really care that GitHub has more repositories or has more traffic or is more popular than X in this case BitBucket. All I really care about is features, and I think BitBucket has more of them.

I wrote about how excited I was about BitBucket a few days ago on my other blog here:

I recently read this post: that talks how GitHub is identical to BitBucket except according to Google, GitHub has a much larger community than BitBucket. I think that goes without saying. There is even support for GitHub in linkedin so you can link your repositories to your linkedin profile - I like that.

However with GitHub you have to pay for things like; disk space and private repositories. Well, you do get 300Mb free with GitHub - with BitBucket there is no limit. I need to elaborate on this a bit more. GitHub says these limits are "Soft Limits" and this is to prevent abuse, abuse from what!? adding everything I have ever written to a repository perhaps!

With GitHub the Web UI is just not very intuitive. For example, I was just trying to create a repository, and I'm still trying to figure out how to do it. This could be because I do not have a credit card on file. When clicking "Repositories" I'd expect some kind of link, or button to create a new repo or something.

With BitBucket this is so much finer, I find it a lot more intuitive and I don't have to enter a credit card unless I need to exceed the 5 free contributors I got when I signed up.

Another feature I really like with BitBucket (not sure if you can do this with GitHub) is import repositories from other source control systems such as Git, Mercurial or SVN. You can also create new repositories using Mercurial or Git.

And finally, I like that fact with BitBucket the ability to use a custom internet domain for all my repositories. For example I've set a CNAME record: to resolve to And it just works, navigating to my above sub domain, resolves to my BitBucket account.

So remind me again why I'd use GitHub over BitBucket?


shauder said...

Just discovered BitBucket not long ago and I have to say I am really enjoying it so far. Especially if you have a University address you can get unlimited contributors for free!

Simon Hart said...

Yep I love it I do.

We just added support for GIT in Windows Azure Web Sites too. So you have you're own GIT repo (in the cloud) for free

Anonymous said...

BitBucket wins for me on one thing... private repositories. I don't have $7 a month to spend on the free projects I'm undertaking.

Most of my repositories are open source and publicly available (9 out of 10) but I have need for one or two private repositories too, for work which isn't open source - I'm a recent graduate doing some unpaid frelance work for experience, so I don't have the money to pay GitHub. Even just one or two private repositories would tempt me back (it annoys me how BitBucket is a blatant rip-off, and GitHub's own OSX and iPhone apps are brilliant) but I need private repositories.

Simon Hart said...


When you say "BitBucket is a blatant rip-off" what do you mean? it is free for up to 5 users and unlimited private repositories.


Anonymous said...

@Simon Hart

Simon Hart said...


Ah sure I understand what you mean.


Brad H said...

The hard limit is because you could use your repo to store music, movies, or large photo libraries if you wanted to. Just cd into your media folder, git init, commit, and push and you've got unlimited free cloud storage that you can share with anyone.

As for the interface, I much prefer githubs interface, but that's just a matter of opinion. Their mac app is really nice (though I never use it). Gist is invaluable. And their constant updates based on user feedback are great.

For those who are concerned about price, $7 is inconsequential unless you're destitute. Most of us will drop $3-$5 on a cup of coffee without any hesitation, but scoff at $7 per month for something that is incredibly valuable, well executed, and getting better daily.

Simon Hart said...

Good additions Brad, thanks. Good point on cost too.


Anonymous said...

I was in the process of selecting a DSCM platform for me when I read that article on Much of that article is about "proving" that BitBucket's UI is a "rip-off" of theirs (with all the screenshots and stuff). Now that move is so blatantly hypocritical, it was a total turn-off from GitHub for me.

Coz the layout in question is one that a BUNCH of other web sites have had before, and GitHub did not bother to credit them either. They did not invent that UI layout, so they should stop moaning about others ripping THEM off.

Truth is, that type of layout is readily used because it has proven to be effective for a certain type of use case, not because GitHub has been so original with it that everybody drools to copy THEM! (Just like a twitter-type layout is a natural choice for another use case, and it is readily used on many websites. I don't see the twitter folks wining on that topic.)

So whoever wrote that article, they should pull their heads out of their butts and realize that GitHub is not to the Web UI scene what iPhone was to the mobile UI scene.

Anonymous said...

@Brad H.:

That argument about abuse is short-sited.

True, in *theory* you could upload your movie collection that way, but it would take months (well, *very* long) for the upload to finish. Nobody at their right mind would use a DVCS like that, just as nobody at their right mind would use a hammer to knock a bolt into a nut.

But even so, it would be easy to implement protection against such abuse in their server software, if abuse protection was really the motivation behind their limits.

Lastly, I know it's sooo easy to play down a price when it's other people's money, but if $7 was such a no-amount, then the service could as well be free.

A-ha! Gotcha! ;)

serdar said...

I am using github over a year it is very nice using it.

but last week i wanted to look at bitbucket too.

the free private repository with git is the thing i am looking for.

so i am going to switch to bitbucket...

on the other hand it would be really nice if i can see a contribution graph, labelling in the issues, added pages list in wikies...

Anonymous said...

For the nice little graphs and visualizations

Kevin said...

Why choose? There's a D in DVCS for a reason. For my projects I host them at github, bitbucket,, gitorious and sourceforge. I figure this way if someone wants to contribute and they really like gitorious's UI more than github's or bitbucket's then they can use that.

Obviously this is for open source stuff.

Simon Hart said...


Because then you'll end up with a fragmented codebase spread across all repos. Even in DVCS, you still need a master place people pull from and push to.


Sundar said...

I love bitbucket for the private repos, and also the UI is simple but functional. Github UI looks all fancy but interferes with the usability. I also remember Github removed some guy's repo a few months ago simply because it was critical of the site - not a good sign. Github has definitely won the programmer popularity contest for now, but they're probably gonna pull something on everyone sometime soon, such characters can't resist that for long.

And I agree with the other comment (by Anonymous) regarding that article, embarrassingly egotistic claims. All that stuff is common UI conventions, they didn't exactly innovate on the UI front, and when two sites serve similar purposes there's bound to be commonalities - this is like Winamp's creators complaining "Windows Media Player has Play, Pause and Stop buttons too, they totally ripped us off!"