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Bitbucket vs. GitLab: Which Is Best For Development Teams?

September 20, 2023

Customer behaviors are rapidly changing, and organizations can no longer afford to stay stagnant. To reach the ever-moving target of customer demands and business priorities, organizations must deliver quality software at a high velocity. This is why the DevOps model has become popular among IT organizations, as it enables development teams to build, test, and deploy top-quality software faster and more efficiently.

Choosing The Best Platform for Your Development Teams

Adopting a DevOps approach enables companies to accelerate time-to-market, improve the customer experience, and drive enterprise agility. One of the keys to achieving DevOps excellence and collaborative software deployment is having a repository management solution that provides development teams with a centralized place for creating and managing changes to source code. 

There are many different repository management tools available on the market, one of which is Bitbucket by Atlassian. With the release of Bitbucket 7.0 in 2020, Atlassian announced that they were changing the Bitbucket diff algorithm from a ‘3-way’ diff to a 2-way ‘three dot’ diff. However, Bitbucket customers – especially larger organizations with established DevOps processes – have been resistant to this change and are looking for other alternatives.

As organizations evaluate options that offer the ‘3-way’ diff merge, they are turning to GitLab, another leading repository management solution for software development. In this article, we discuss the pros and cons of Bitbucket vs. GitLab and take a closer look at what this change in Bitbucket means for software developers. We also help you decide which DevOps tool is best for your development teams. 

Bitbucket vs. Gitlab: Pros & Cons

Project Management 

More than just a repository management tool, GitLab is an all-in-one, feature-rich DevOps solution with built-in project management capabilities. This makes GitLab a solid option if your organization needs a one-stop-shop DevOps platform or if your organization is development-heavy. 

Bitbucket Cloud, on the other hand, does not have project management capabilities baked into the tool. That’s because it seamlessly integrates with Atlassian’s project management tools like Jira and Trello.

Jira Software is already widely adopted by enterprises across all industries, and the best-in-class integration with Bitbucket provides big-picture visibility of work being done across all teams in the organization. It also automatically keeps teams up-to-date on code changes, when a feature is ready for release, and what work needs to be completed. 


Development teams require flexibility in their development environment to ensure productivity and successful software project delivery. Bitbucket allows development teams to import from Git, SVN, SourceForge, and Google Code.

This allows for easy adoption and integration into existing development environments, which facilitates better communication and collaboration among teams. Another advantage of Bitbucket is that it supports both Git and Mercurial version control systems, giving developers the flexibility to choose the version control system that best suits their needs. 

Even though GitLab is a one-stop shop for DevOps teams, it doesn’t fully support integrations or imports from other development environments. This creates more limitations for software developers and could potentially hinder their agility. 

While GitLab may not be compatible with as many development environments as Bitbucket, the platform’s comprehensive set of features and tools still provides developers with the flexibility to tailor their workflows to meet their specific needs.


Another factor that sets these two tools apart is price. Both offer different pricing models to support various business needs and the option to upgrade plans for more storage, build minutes, integrations, and other features.

Starting at $3 per user per month for teams bigger than 5 and increasing to $6 per user for the next tier, Bitbucket pricing is significantly less expensive than GitLab. GitLab’s pricing starts at $29 per user per month for more than five users, and their Ultimate Plan goes up to $99. Also with Bitbucket’s plans, organizations have the option to purchase more storage and build minutes, which allows them to pay for only what they need.

3-Way Diff vs. 2-Way Diff for Development Teams

Another big difference between these platforms is the ‘3-way’ diff functionality, which Bitbucket Cloud no longer supports. This means that Bitbucket users can no longer simultaneously write code and have it reviewed and merged asynchronously.

According to Atlassian, implementing the 2-way ‘three-dot’ diff “better isolates the changes in the source and destination branch and initial testing has shown that moving to the 'three-dot' diff reduces latency, therefore significantly improving performance on complex diffs in particular.” 

While Atlassian believes that phasing out the ‘3-way’ diff will reduce the complexity of development processes and improve product performance, some organizations feel this change puts more work on the development team rather than the tool itself. Other users have also expressed that this change has significantly downgraded their CI/CD processes since it restricts teams from developing multiple features at the same time and efficiently reviewing the code before deployment.  

On the flip side, some IT thought leaders view this change as an opportunity to rethink their current DevOps practices and improve organizational culture. Working with the ‘2-way’ diff requires teams to adopt better practices, like working in smaller, incremental changes and learning to anticipate changes in code. It also means that developers must incorporate others’ merged changes more often, which reduces bugs and increases code quality since they have to stay on top of what other developers are working on.

Making the Right Decision For Your Development Teams

Both Bitbucket Cloud and GitLab are powerful DevOps platforms that enable developers to collaborate, build CI/CD pipelines, and deliver software with ease. Choosing which platform is best for your development team ultimately depends on what your organization needs and how willing you are to invest in a cultural shift brought on by Bitbucket changing the pull request diff functionality.

If the ‘3-way’ diff is a critical functionality for your DevOps teams, then GitLab is the better option. The same applies if Bitbucket’s 2-way ‘three-dot’ diff is too impactful to your DevOps processes or your teams are too resistant to change. Also, if you need an all-in-one tool with advanced features or you are a dev-heavy organization, then GitLab is a great choice. 

However, if your teams are already immersed in the Atlassian ecosystem, then Bitbucket might be a better option for your DevOps toolchain. The best-in-class integration between Bitbucket and Jira Software creates a seamless development experience that allows teams to easily build deploy, and improve software quality within a unified platform.

Regardless of the tool you choose, Praecipio can help you adopt DevOps practices and technologies that improve your business’s bottom line. We offer licensing for both GitLab and Bitbucket, in addition to other technologies that help you build a deeply collaborative culture.

If you want to know more about how the Atlassian platform stacks up against other tools, check out our articles on Jira Service Management vs. Service Now and Ivanti and Jira vs. Redmine.   

Whether you need help with tool integration, infrastructure management, continuous integration, or continuous delivery, our comprehensive DevOps solutions provide you with everything you need to get the job done. Reach out to learn more about how we can help your organization achieve DevOps excellence.  

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