What is Gitlab and How it Works?

Programmers now tend to code in teams, and they employ special tools for collaborative work. For example, the Git-based source code management system allows developers to keep the data of a project on the network and edit it together according to certain rules and cooperation methodologies.

GitHub is the most commonly known service. GitLab offers the same functionality, but somewhat differently. The tool enables developers to manage repositories with code, manage access rights and users, track bugs in developed programs, automate processes, publish code and test it. You can install and use GitLab on your own server or in the cloud.

How does GitLab work?

The core functionality of GitLab is a visual Git repository management system that would otherwise require a command line interface. Most of the front-end UI is implemented in Ruby on Rails, running on a web server that sends jobs via a job pool on the Redis server to a backend assistant called GitLab Runner, written in Go.


The most important functions of GitLab are as follows:

1. Creating separate branches from the main, production version of the project. This kind of branching creates a copy, which allows programmers to experiment by working on different parts of the code without affecting the original project.

2. If everything is fine, after making the changes, you can submit a merge request. The merge request is sent to the project owner, who can review the changes and ask any additional questions. When the project owner is satisfied, they can merge your changes with the source code.

3. Introducing changes from a remote repository. If the project code has been updated, all project participants will be able to make changes, i.e. update the project to the most up-to-date version with one command.

GitLab vs. GitHub

Over the years, both repository management services have taken the best features from each other and integrated them into their platforms.

Here are some of the major features they have:

  • Pull request

  • Third-party integrations

  • Fork/clone repository

  • Code review

  • Code snippets

  • Issue Tracking

  • Advanced permission management

  • Markdown support

However, there are differences between code management repositories that might make you prefer one to the other.

Authentication — in GitLab, permission is granted based on roles, while in GitHub, developers can grant read or write access to specific repositories.

Features. GitLab helps track the entire software development cycle — from planning to deployment. The control system provides the ability to import and export from other systems, as well as from any available GitURL. In addition, there is support for multiple repositories. The situation with GitHub is different — it is supported by Visual Studio, as this company currently owns the service.

Import/export data — GitLab offers much more detailed documentation on how to import/export data from external vendors, whereas GitHub documentation is not as detailed. GitLab is capable of importing projects and problems from more sources than GitHub.

Deployment platform — GitHub does not come with a built-in deployment platform and requires third-party integration with an external application. GitLab, on the other hand, uses Kubernetes for seamless deployment.

Why choose GitLab?

The first thing that attracts developers to GitLab is the integrated CI/CD tools. In addition, it's an open-source project and the opportunity to launch a private installation on your own server. And of course, it's a huge community — GitLab brings together millions of developers.

The platform has a variety of applications and features, which, combined with a useful toolkit, makes it a convenient service for both beginners and professionals. GitLab is actively developing as a product, adapting to the current needs of developers, so its use is reasonable in projects of any size.

Was this helpful?
author: Yusuf Ozturk
published: 10/19/2022
Latest articles
Scroll up!