Let’s try Bitbucket

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Earlier this year we moved our version/source control to git.

Of course, if you use git, you use GitHub.

But what about Bitbucket?

Let me back up a bit.

At a prior gig I got to use some Atlassian products, specifically JIRA and Confluence. I think the company also had Bamboo, but the team I worked with had a different build/CI solution. I must admit, the more I used JIRA and Confluence, the more I liked them. Sometimes Confluence annoyed me, but I think that’s more how they used it than the software itself. And while they only used JIRA as a glorified bug tracker, I could see the great potential it had to do all sorts of planning and task tracking. I really liked them. In fact, when I was looking for a bug/issue tracking solution for Hsoi Enterprises, I was hoping I could use JIRA. I appreciated their approach, that I could use the “download and run on your own server” approach for my small commercial team for only $10/year. That is awesome for a small company on a tight budget. And to boot? That $10 actually becomes a donation to Room To Read. You gotta love that! Alas, last time I checked, JIRA server isn’t designed to run on Mac OS X (Server) so… that killed my hopes. 🙁

Still, I use one Atlassian product every day: SourceTree. I think it rocks, and is the best GUI client for git out there. I looked at all the GUI clients I could, and SourceTree won out for me. Sure sometimes the command line git tools are the way to go, and sure SourceTree isn’t perfect, but it is actively developed and I’m quite pleased with it.

Consequently, Bitbucket keeps being put in front of my face… which stands to reason.

I’ve stayed away from Bitbucket because it came off like a road to nowhere. Who uses Bitbucket? I don’t see any way to search or browse Bitbucket for projects. I don’t see the community like Github has. What’s the point! In fact, I’ve seen a couple of projects that were in Bitbucket than moved to Github, and “fleeing” doesn’t seem like a ringing endorsement for a service, y’know?

But like all things Atlassian, they seem to be growing and making large strides in improving. Sure, Bitbucket appears to be chasing Github, and some people look at it as “rip off”, but to an extent you have to because 1. it makes it easier for people to adapt to and thus adopt the other system, 2. people expect at least feature parity and then something more for the switch, 3. if I’m using both systems (Github and Bitbucket), it’s kinda nice that I don’t have to make massive mental paradigm shifts as I use them both — kinda like how text editor/word processing apps are basically the same, yet can vary in the specifics. Basically, that Bitbucket and Github will appear to be somewhat clones of each other ain’t so bad.

So why do I want to switch to Bitbucket? Well… I don’t want to switch, I just want to give Bitbucket a try.

The compelling reason?

It’s free.

The tag line that’s up on their home page right now?

Unlimited private repositories to collaborate on your code – Git or Mercurial. Free for 5 users.

And so I go back to the “small company on a limited budget” situation and gee, isn’t that nice? Ever since we made the switch to git, the code has been kept locally with limited backups. Having such an “offsite” repository would be very nice. Collaboration is only a minor need at this point, but that it’s there with a simple flick of the switch is welcome and avoids a lot of internal IT hassles (back to the “small company” angle).

So I signed up for Bitbucket to take a look around. What got me really excited? They have Wiki and Issue tracking too. Well sure. Github has that, but again we’re talking private repository here. Github costs per month for private repositories, but even then well… I don’t like their issue tracking that much. It’s not bad, and I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe just because I’m spoiled by more dedicated issue trackers.  While Bitbucket’s tracking isn’t JIRA, it’s obviously based upon it. Maybe it’s my prior appreciation for JIRA that influences me here.

Anyways, I’ve only started to poke at Bitbucket and am not seriously using it yet, but their “killer feature” right now is a way for those of us on a limited budget to have private repository hosting. It’s certainly got me in the door, which is precisely what they want.

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