CircleCI vs GitLab

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CircleCI

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CircleCI vs GitLab: What are the differences?

Developers describe CircleCI as "Automate your development process quickly, safely, and at scale". Continuous integration and delivery platform helps software teams rapidly release code with confidence by automating the build, test, and deploy process. Offers a modern software development platform that lets teams ramp. On the other hand, GitLab is detailed as "Open source self-hosted Git management software". GitLab offers git repository management, code reviews, issue tracking, activity feeds and wikis. Enterprises install GitLab on-premise and connect it with LDAP and Active Directory servers for secure authentication and authorization. A single GitLab server can handle more than 25,000 users but it is also possible to create a high availability setup with multiple active servers.

CircleCI belongs to "Continuous Integration" category of the tech stack, while GitLab can be primarily classified under "Code Collaboration & Version Control".

Some of the features offered by CircleCI are:

  • Language-Inclusive Support
  • Custom Environments
  • Flexible Resource Allocation

On the other hand, GitLab provides the following key features:

  • Manage git repositories with fine grained access controls that keep your code secure
  • Perform code reviews and enhance collaboration with merge requests
  • Each project can also have an issue tracker and a wiki

"Github integration", "Easy setup" and "Fast builds" are the key factors why developers consider CircleCI; whereas "Self hosted", "Free" and "Has community edition" are the primary reasons why GitLab is favored.

GitLab is an open source tool with 20.1K GitHub stars and 5.33K GitHub forks. Here's a link to GitLab's open source repository on GitHub.

Coderus, Webedia, and Ticketmaster are some of the popular companies that use GitLab, whereas CircleCI is used by Instacart, Lyft, and StackShare. GitLab has a broader approval, being mentioned in 1219 company stacks & 1431 developers stacks; compared to CircleCI, which is listed in 925 company stacks and 372 developer stacks.

Advice on CircleCI and GitLab
Needs advice
on
Jenkins XJenkins XGitLab CIGitLab CI
and
CircleCICircleCI

We are a mid-size startup running Scala apps. Moving from Jenkins/EC2 to Spinnaker/EKS and looking for a tool to cover our CI/CD needs. Our code lives on GitHub, artifacts in nexus, images in ECR.

Drone is out, GitHub actions are being considered along with Circle CI and GitLab CI.

We primarily need:

  • Fast SBT builds (caching)
  • Low maintenance overhead (ideally serverless)
  • Everything as code
  • Ease of use
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Replies (3)
Glenn Gillen
Recommends
BuildkiteBuildkite

I think I've tried most of the CI tools out there at some point. It took me a while to get around to Buildkite because at first I didn't see much point given it seemed like you had to run the agent yourself. Eventually it dawned on me why this approach was more ingenious than I realised:

Running my app in a production (or production-like) environment was already a solved problem, because everything was already in some form of "everything as code". Having a test environment where the only difference was adding the Buildkite agent was a trivial addition.

It means that dev/test/prod parity is simple to achieve and maintain. It's also proven to be much easier to support than trying to deal with the problems that come with trying to force an app to fit into the nuances and constraints that are imposed by the containers/runtime of a CI service. When you completely control all of the environment the tests are running in you define those constraints too. It's been a great balance between a managed service and the flexibility of running it yourself.

And while none of my needs have hit the scale of Shopify (I saw one of their engineers speak about it at a conference once, I can't find the video now though 😞) it's good to know I can scale out my worker nodes to hundreds of thousands of workers to reduce the time it takes for my tests to run.

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Recommends
jFrogjFrog

I would recommend you to consider the JFrog Platform that includes JFrog Pipelines - it will allow you to manage the full artifact life cycle for your sbt, docker and other technologies, and automate all of your CI and CD using cloud native declarative yaml pipelines. Will integrate smoothly with all your other toolset.

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Estu Fardani
Recommends
GitLab CIGitLab CI

more configurable to setup ci/cd: * It can provide caching when build sbt, just add this section to yml file * Easy to use, many documentation

Weakness: * Need use gitlab as repository to bring more powerful configuration

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Needs advice
on
JenkinsJenkinsTravis CITravis CI
and
CircleCICircleCI

From a StackShare Community member: "Currently we use Travis CI and have optimized it as much as we can so our builds are fairly quick. Our boss is all about redundancy so we are looking for another solution to fall back on in case Travis goes down and/or jacks prices way up (they were recently acquired). Could someone recommend which CI we should go with and if they have time, an explanation of how they're different?"

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Replies (6)
Dustin Falgout
Developer at Elegant Themes · | 13 upvotes · 253.5K views

We use CircleCI because of the better value it provides in its plans. I'm sure we could have used Travis just as easily but we found CircleCI's pricing to be more reasonable. In the two years since we signed up, the service has improved. CircleCI is always innovating and iterating on their platform. We have been very satisfied.

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Peter Thomas
Distinguished Engineer at Intuit · | 9 upvotes · 232.5K views
Recommends
Travis CITravis CI
at

As the maintainer of the Karate DSL open-source project - I found Travis CI very easy to integrate into the GitHub workflow and it has been steady sailing for more than 2 years now ! It works well for Java / Apache Maven projects and we were able to configure it to use the latest Oracle JDK as per our needs. Thanks to the Travis CI team for this service to the open-source community !

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I use Google Cloud Build because it's my first foray into the CICD world(loving it so far), and I wanted to work with something GCP native to avoid giving permissions to other SaaS tools like CircleCI and Travis CI.

I really like it because it's free for the first 120 minutes, and it's one of the few CICD tools that enterprises are open to using since it's contained within GCP.

One of the unique things is that it has the Kaniko cache, which speeds up builds by creating intermediate layers within the docker image vs. pushing the full thing from the start. Helpful when you're installing just a few additional dependencies.

Feel free to checkout an example: Cloudbuild Example

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Recommends
Travis CITravis CI

I use Travis CI because of various reasons - 1. Cloud based system so no dedicated server required, and you do not need to administrate it. 2. Easy YAML configuration. 3. Supports Major Programming Languages. 4. Support of build matrix 6. Supports AWS, Azure, Docker, Heroku, Google Cloud, Github Pages, PyPi and lot more. 7. Slack Notifications.

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Oded Arbel
Recommends
GitLab CIGitLab CI

You are probably looking at another hosted solution: Jenkins is a good tool but it way too work intensive to be used as just a backup solution.

I have good experience with Circle-CI, Codeship, Drone.io and Travis (as well as problematic experiences with all of them), but my go-to tool is Gitlab CI: simple, powerful and if you have problems with their limitations or pricing, you can always install runners somewhere and use Gitlab just for scheduling and management. Even if you don't host your git repository at Gitlab, you can have Gitlab pull changes automatically from wherever you repo lives.

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Recommends
BuildkiteBuildkite

If you are considering Jenkins I would recommend at least checking out Buildkite. The agents are self-hosted (like Jenkins) but the interface is hosted for you. It meshes up some of the things I like about hosted services (pipeline definitions in YAML, managed interface and authentication) with things I like about Jenkins (local customizable agent images, secrets only on own instances, custom agent level scripts, sizing instances to your needs).

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Decisions about CircleCI and GitLab
Weverton Timoteo

Do you review your Pull/Merge Request before assigning Reviewers?

If you work in a team opening a Pull Request (or Merge Request) looks appropriate. However, have you ever thought about opening a Pull/Merge Request when working by yourself? Here's a checklist of things you can review in your own:

  • Pick the correct target branch
  • Make Drafts explicit
  • Name things properly
  • Ask help for tools
  • Remove the noise
  • Fetch necessary data
  • Understand Mergeability
  • Pass the message
  • Add screenshots
  • Be found in the future
  • Comment inline in your changes

Read the blog post for more detailed explanation for each item :D

What else do you review before asking for code review?

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Weverton Timoteo

Using an inclusive language is crucial for fostering a diverse culture. Git has changed the naming conventions to be more language-inclusive, and so you should change. Our development tools, like GitHub and GitLab, already supports the change.

SourceLevel deals very nicely with repositories that changed the master branch to a more appropriate word. Besides, you can use the grep linter the look for exclusive terms contained in the source code.

As the inclusive language gap may happen in other aspects of our lives, have you already thought about them?

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Weverton Timoteo

One of the magic tricks git performs is the ability to rewrite log history. You can do it in many ways, but git rebase -i is the one I most use. With this command, It’s possible to switch commits order, remove a commit, squash two or more commits, or edit, for instance.

It’s particularly useful to run it before opening a pull request. It allows developers to “clean up” the mess and organize commits before submitting to review. If you follow the practice 3 and 4, then the list of commits should look very similar to a task list. It should reveal the rationale you had, telling the story of how you end up with that final code.

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Kamaleshwar BN
Head of Engineering at Dibiz Pte. Ltd. · | 8 upvotes · 329.5K views

Out of most of the VCS solutions out there, we found Gitlab was the most feature complete with a free community edition. Their DevSecops offering is also a very robust solution. Gitlab CI/CD was quite easy to setup and the direct integration with your VCS + CI/CD is also a bonus. Out of the box integration with major cloud providers, alerting through instant messages etc. are all extremely convenient. We push our CI/CD updates to MS Teams.

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Gitlab as A LOT of features that GitHub and Azure DevOps are missing. Even if both GH and Azure are backed by Microsoft, GitLab being open source has a faster upgrade rate and the hosted by gitlab.com solution seems more appealing than anything else! Quick win: the UI is way better and the Pipeline is way easier to setup on GitLab!

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My website is brand new and one of the few requirements of testings I had to implement was code coverage. Never though it was so hard to implement using a #docker container. Given my lack of experience, every attempt I tried on making a simple code coverage test using the 4 combinations of #TravisCI, #CircleCi with #Coveralls, #Codecov I failed. The main problem was I was generating the .coverage file within the docker container and couldn't access it with #TravisCi or #CircleCi, every attempt to solve this problem seems to be very hacky and this was not the kind of complexity I want to introduce to my newborn website. This problem was solved using a specific action for #GitHubActions, it was a 3 line solution I had to put in my github workflow file and I was able to access the .coverage file from my docker container and get the coverage report with #Codecov.

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Buddy is one of the most easy-to-use tools for CI I ever met. When I needed to set up the pipeline I was really impressed with how easy it is to create it with Buddy with only a few moments. It's literally like: 1. Add repo 2. Click - Click - Click 3. You're done and your app is on prod :D The top feature that I've found is a simple integration with different notification channels - not only Slack (which is the one by default), but Telegram and Discord. The support is also neat - guys respond pretty quickly on even a small issue.

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We were long time users of TravisCI, but switched to CircleCI because of the better user interface and pricing. Version 2.0 has had a couple of trips and hiccups; but overall we've been very happy with the continuous integration it provides. Continuous Integration is a must-have for building software, and CircleCI continues to surprise as they roll out ideas and features. It's leading the industry in terms of innovation and new ideas, and it's exciting to see what new things they keep rolling out.

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Jenkins is a pretty flexible, complete tool. Especially I love the possibility to configure jobs as a code with Jenkins pipelines.

CircleCI is well suited for small projects where the main task is to run continuous integration as quickly as possible. Travis CI is recommended primarily for open-source projects that need to be tested in different environments.

And for something a bit larger I prefer to use Jenkins because it is possible to make serious system configuration thereby different plugins. In Jenkins, I can change almost anything. But if you want to start the CI chain as soon as possible, Jenkins may not be the right choice.

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Nazar Atamaniuk
Shared insights
on
DeployPlaceDeployPlaceGitHubGitHubGitLabGitLab

At DeployPlace we use self-hosted GitLab, we have chosen GitLab as most of us are familiar with it. We are happy with all features GitLab provides, I can’t imagine our life without integrated GitLab CI. Another important feature for us is integrated code review tool, we use it every day, we use merge requests, code reviews, branching. To be honest, most of us have GitHub accounts as well, we like to contribute in open source, and we want to be a part of the tech community, but lack of solutions from GitHub in the area of CI doesn’t let us chose it for our projects.

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Pros of CircleCI
Pros of GitLab
  • 224
    Github integration
  • 176
    Easy setup
  • 152
    Fast builds
  • 94
    Competitively priced
  • 74
    Slack integration
  • 54
    Docker support
  • 44
    Awesome UI
  • 33
    Great customer support
  • 18
    Ios support
  • 14
    Hipchat integration
  • 12
    SSH debug access
  • 11
    Free for Open Source
  • 5
    Mobile support
  • 5
    Bitbucket integration
  • 4
    Nodejs support
  • 4
    AWS CodeDeploy integration
  • 3
    YAML configuration
  • 3
    Free for Github private repo
  • 3
    Great support
  • 2
    Clojure
  • 2
    Simple, clean UI
  • 2
    Clojurescript
  • 2
    OSX support
  • 2
    Continuous Deployment
  • 1
    Android support
  • 1
    Autoscaling
  • 1
    Fair pricing
  • 1
    All inclusive testing
  • 1
    Helpful documentation
  • 1
    Japanese in rspec comment appears OK
  • 1
    Favorite
  • 1
    Build PR Branch Only
  • 1
    Really easy to use
  • 1
    Unstable
  • 1
    So circular
  • 1
    Easy setup, easy to understand, fast and reliable
  • 1
    Parallel builds for slow test suites
  • 1
    Easy setup. 2.0 is fast!
  • 1
    Parallelism
  • 1
    Extremely configurable
  • 1
    Easy to deploy to private servers
  • 1
    Works
  • 491
    Self hosted
  • 420
    Free
  • 334
    Has community edition
  • 238
    Easy setup
  • 238
    Familiar interface
  • 131
    Includes many features, including ci
  • 107
    Nice UI
  • 81
    Good integration with gitlabci
  • 53
    Simple setup
  • 33
    Has an official mobile app
  • 31
    Free private repository
  • 26
    Continuous Integration
  • 19
    Open source, great ui (like github)
  • 15
    Slack Integration
  • 11
    Full CI flow
  • 9
    Free and unlimited private git repos
  • 8
    User, group, and project access management is simple
  • 7
    Built-in CI
  • 7
    All in one (Git, CI, Agile..)
  • 7
    Intuitive UI
  • 4
    Both public and private Repositories
  • 3
    Mattermost Chat client
  • 3
    Issue system
  • 3
    Integrated Docker Registry
  • 2
    I like the its runners and executors feature
  • 2
    Unlimited free repos & collaborators
  • 2
    One-click install through DigitalOcean
  • 2
    It's powerful source code management tool
  • 2
    CI
  • 2
    Free private repos
  • 2
    Excellent
  • 2
    Build/pipeline definition alongside code
  • 2
    On-premises
  • 2
    Security and Stable
  • 2
    So easy to use
  • 2
    Great for team collaboration
  • 2
    Low maintenance cost due omnibus-deployment
  • 2
    It's fully integrated
  • 1
    Many private repo
  • 1
    Published IP list for whitelisting (gl-infra#434)
  • 1
    Powerful Continuous Integration System
  • 1
    Kubernetes Integration
  • 1
    Kubernetes integration with GitLab CI
  • 1
    Review Apps feature
  • 1
    Built-in Docker Registry
  • 1
    The dashboard with deployed environments
  • 1
    Multilingual interface
  • 1
    Native CI
  • 1
    HipChat intergration
  • 1
    It includes everything I need, all packaged with docker
  • 1
    Powerful software planning and maintaining tools
  • 1
    Groups of groups
  • 1
    Dockerized
  • 1
    Beautiful
  • 1
    Wounderful
  • 1
    Opensource
  • 1
    Because is the best remote host for git repositories
  • 1
    Not Microsoft Owned
  • 1
    Full DevOps suite with Git
  • 0
    Supports Radius/Ldap & Browser Code Edits

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Cons of CircleCI
Cons of GitLab
  • 12
    Unstable
  • 6
    Scammy pricing structure
  • 0
    Aggressive Github permissions
  • 26
    Slow ui performance
  • 6
    Introduce breaking bugs every release
  • 5
    Insecure (no published IP list for whitelisting)
  • 1
    Built-in Docker Registry
  • 0
    Review Apps feature

Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

What is CircleCI?

Continuous integration and delivery platform helps software teams rapidly release code with confidence by automating the build, test, and deploy process. Offers a modern software development platform that lets teams ramp.

What is GitLab?

GitLab offers git repository management, code reviews, issue tracking, activity feeds and wikis. Enterprises install GitLab on-premise and connect it with LDAP and Active Directory servers for secure authentication and authorization. A single GitLab server can handle more than 25,000 users but it is also possible to create a high availability setup with multiple active servers.

Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

What companies use CircleCI?
What companies use GitLab?
See which teams inside your own company are using CircleCI or GitLab.
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Blog Posts

What are some alternatives to CircleCI and GitLab?
Jenkins
In a nutshell Jenkins CI is the leading open-source continuous integration server. Built with Java, it provides over 300 plugins to support building and testing virtually any project.
Travis CI
Free for open source projects, our CI environment provides multiple runtimes (e.g. Node.js or PHP versions), data stores and so on. Because of this, hosting your project on travis-ci.com means you can effortlessly test your library or applications against multiple runtimes and data stores without even having all of them installed locally.
Codeship
Codeship runs your automated tests and configured deployment when you push to your repository. It takes care of managing and scaling the infrastructure so that you are able to test and release more frequently and get faster feedback for building the product your users need.
Azure DevOps
Azure DevOps provides unlimited private Git hosting, cloud build for continuous integration, agile planning, and release management for continuous delivery to the cloud and on-premises. Includes broad IDE support.
Concourse
Concourse's principles reduce the risk of switching to and from Concourse, by encouraging practices that decouple your project from your CI's little details, and keeping all configuration in declarative files that can be checked into version control.
See all alternatives