Continuing Platform Comparisons

Last week I continued researching the features of the GitLab Gold and GitHub Free platforms. I continued going down the list of the features listed for GitLab Gold on its feature comparison page and then seeing if GitHub Free had similar implementations of these features. I originally thought that most of the GitLab Gold features would be exclusive to this platform, but to my surprise GitHub Free supports quite a few of GitLab Gold’s advanced features. I found that GitLab Gold does have some features that GitHub Free doesn’t though, some of these are either advanced features geared more towards enterprise environments, others seem to fall under more advanced user permissions such as selecting which users can approve merge requests. I found that GitLab Gold’s issue board system is much better than GitHub’s project boards with the ability to create more advanced boards than GitHub, such as a board with user assignee lists or a milestone list. I am again finding that certain features between the GitHub and GitLab platforms are easily comparable and have a direct counterpart such as requiring commits to be signed and other features are a bit more ambiguous such as supporting what GitLab calls “backlog management”. I am finding this is largely due to how clearly GitHub’s and GitLab’s websites document and explain the features the platforms offer. Another thing that I am finding that makes this comparison process harder is that the description for the feature on GitLab Gold’s product comparison page doesn’t always match exactly with the features described in the documentation it links to, or sometimes the links provided from the feature comparison page don’t go to a specific section of the online document. I have also begun to use the test groups to see for myself what features are available in these platforms. I have been mainly using the GitHub organization to compare its project board features to GitLab Gold’s issue board features as I find it is easier to actually see what’s available in GitHub than to use its website guides. I have also started to take note of what I think should be tested in the workflows between GitHub and GitLab, this includes the project/issue boards and some of the more advanced options GitLab Gold offers, along with other user permission settings GitLab has such as push rules.  I am hoping that at the meeting later this week we will refine the workflow so I can begin testing these features. I plan to finish the comparisons between GitHub Free and GitLab Gold before the meeting at the end of this week so that I have a good idea of all the advertised features of all of the platforms.

In addition to continuing research on the platforms, I also began to learn more about the LibreFoodPantry project. I did this by going through all of the past meeting minutes that were sent to me. I wanted to get a better idea and background on the project to see what decisions have been made so far and how my research into version control software fits in to this. I also wanted to this before the meeting later this week, so I could get a better idea of my purpose in these meetings.

Beginning My Summer Research Project

This summer I will be conducting research under the Aisiku Undergraduate Research Fellowship which is awarded to STEM projects for students at Worcester State University. The goal of this project is to research and select the best version control software to use for the LibreFoodPantry projects which fall under the category of Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software. I will be looking at the GitHub Free, GitLab Free, and GitLab Gold packages and selecting which one out of these three is the most suitable for contributing to and maintaining the LibreFoodPantry projects. I will be writing weekly blog posts to keep track of what I learned and did during the week while working on this project throughout the summer.


This week I began the project by looking at the features of GitHub Free, GitLab Free, and GitLab Gold. I created a table in a document with a column for each one of these and started listing out the features that are provided in the product comparisons page for GitHub and GitLab. Once I listed out all the provided features for all three of these I started to do a comparison between the features listed for the GitHub and GitLab plans. The comparison for GitLab Free and GitLab Gold is easier since GitLab Gold has the same base options as GitLab Free in addition to other advanced features which are listed in the plan comparison page. I then started going through all the features listed in GitHub Free’s plan page and seeing if the GitLab versions had them and if they were similar features. I kept track of differences by highlighting the text of the features in the table with different colors. I ended up finding that most of the GitHub features were comparable to GitLab such as having code owners or project boards. I found out that GitHub has a couple of features that both versions of GitLab we are looking at doesn’t such as an apps marketplace. GitHub also has a couple of features it does better than GitLab such as offering repository insights. There were also a couple of features that GitLab does do better such as having built-in continuous integration and continuous delivery. Overall I found that I started to prefer the GitLab platform by the end of the first week and their website offers better and more thorough documentation for its features than GitHub’s does. At the end of the week I had a meeting with my faculty advisor for the project to go over my progress and findings so far. In the beginning of the meeting we both came to the conclusion that the research being done for this project is applicable outside of the scope of just the LibreFoodPantry projects and can be used for other open source projects. We decided that I would continue looking at the features between the platforms during the second week. My advisor also created testing groups on each of the platforms and added me as an administrator so that we can start testing workflows after I finish comparing features. We also discussed the details about an upcoming meeting for LibreFoodPantry (which should help refine the workflows we will be examining in this project) and my involvement in this.