Collaborative software development is hard. Team members may prefer different processes and methodologies. Similarly, data security, open and timely communication, transparency, and accountability can make it difficult for development teams to work effectively.
These challenges are further aggravated by distributed software collaboration, where it is difficult and often impossible to get everyone working in the same building. Fortunately, Git repository management solutions like Bitbucket promise to solve these challenges and do so much more.
Bitbucket isn’t just a central place for remote teams to manage their repositories and collaborate on projects. Instead, the platform promises to support developers during every phase of the development lifecycle, starting from planning to deployment and operations.
But is Bitbucket worth it? That’s the question we will be uncovering in this Bitbucket review.
Bitbucket is a popular closed-core source code management service, joining the ranks of GitHub and GitLab in terms of popularity for development projects. The Git giant started as an independent company supporting the Mercurial repository format.
Then named Stash, the company was acquired by Atlassian in 2010 and shifted its focus to the more popular Git repository format. Bitbucket is built on the Django web framework and is written in Python.
Currently, the platform has over 10 million users. Its user base includes some of the world’s biggest brands, including General Motors and The American Red Cross.
So, is Bitbucket any good? The quick answer is yes. The platform offers many features that your development team will undoubtedly appreciate. But, before we get to the nitty-gritty of this platform, it’s worth having a quick look at its pricing.
Overall, Bitbucket is very affordable, considering what’s on offer. The pricing structure is also simple, requiring you to pay per user. So, you know exactly what to expect when it’s billing time.
The free plan is one of the best for similar services. It supports up to five users with unlimited private repositories. This plan also includes advanced features, including CI/CD, up to 10 deployment environments, 50 build minutes per month, and unlimited pull request reviewers. You also get native integration with Trello and Jira.
The free plan caters to individuals and small teams looking for basic source code management services. Furthermore, Enterprise users have two paid plans to choose from as follows:
Standard – This plan costs $3 per user per month. It supports unlimited users, with 2,500 build minutes per month. Other perks in this tier include up to 50 deployment environments, 5 GB Git Large File Storage, and unlimited Code Insights.
Premium – This plan costs $6 per user per month. You get all the features in the Standard plan and additional perks. The add-on features in this plan include IP Allowlisting, Deployment permissions, Enforced merge checks, and Required two-step verification.
Back to the question of whether Bitbucket is any good. Below are some of the best features that the platform has to offer:
Granular Branch Permissions – Bitbucket’s branch allows you to enforce the appropriate security level based on your workflow or process. The platform allows granular branch permissions down to users’ actions on a single branch. For example, you can control which users can merge, write, or force-push to a specific branch.
This feature is hardly revolutionary. But Bitbucket offers it with all its repositories, including free private repos. By comparison, you’d need to be on a paid plan to enjoy this level of branch restrictions on GitHub’s private repositories.
Enterprise-Grade Security Features – If security for your private repos is a top priority, Bitbucket is definitely the place to manage your source code. The platform applies various security measures, including rigorous security checks, third-party audits, automated scanning, and threat modeling.
Bitbucket’s Premium plan is designed for organizations looking for even more advanced security. This plan’s security offerings include Enforced 2FA & IP Whitelisting, SAML-based SSO, Data encryption in transit, and Security key support.
Additionally, Premium users are guaranteed compliance with various certifications, including ISO/IEC 27018 for personally identifiable information in public clouds and GDPR for companies doing business in the EU. Additional compliance certifications guaranteed by the Bitbucket Premium plan include SOC II & III, ISOC/IEC 27001, and PCI DSS.
Seamless Atlassian Integrations – Bitbucket seamlessly integrates with other popular and indispensable Atlassian products. The parent company ensures that its products work seamlessly together.
For example, you get seamless integration with JIRA for bug tracking and Trello for project management. You can undoubtedly integrate these tools with other platforms such as Gitlab, but they don’t work as well together as keeping things in the Atlassian family.
For instance, you can set Bitbucket’s code commits to update Jira issues automatically in seconds. Additionally, you can create Bitbucket branches right from Jira. Of course, this capability is also possible when you integrate GitHub or GitLab with Jira. But, the fluid integration and synchronization with Bitbucket is nothing short of flawless.
So, if you already use Jira and Trello for your workflows and are looking for a source code management solution, Bitbucket makes perfect sense.
Finally, Bitbucket integrates with many other tools, including Microsoft Azure, Crucible, Bamboo, Docket Hub, and Jenkins. The Atlassian Marketplace is also home to more than 2300 apps that seamlessly integrate with Bitbucket. This scenario is perfect for discerning enterprise developers.
Wiki Functionality – One of the features that sets Bitbucket apart from competitors like GitHub is its wiki functionality. Wikis are incredibly useful for communicating and collaborating with team members.
Again, this feature is pretty standard on these platforms. But, Bitbucket offers on all its repositories, including free private repos. By comparison, GitHub doesn’t provide wikis for free private repositories, only public ones. So, you need a paid plan to get wikis on private repositories with GitHub.
You can start using Bitbucket’s wiki functionality at the flick of a switch. Additionally, you have the freedom to use wikis for public documentation or private notes. The idea that you can have all your essential documentation in one place makes the dev cycle much easier to manage.
Finally, you have complete control of your wikis, including editing and version control. This flexibility extends to using wikis for open-source documentation, internal notes, or home pages.
Semantic Search – Bitbucket has a valuable code-aware search feature. This feature uses semantic search to help you quickly sift through large code bases or multiple repos. The semantic search does this by prioritizing definitions that match your search terms over variable names or usages.
Aside from its great features, there is much more to like about Bitbucket in terms of functionality. Below are some of the best things about signing up for Bitbucket.
Clean User Interface
Bitbucket has done a lot to improve its user interface from its initial design. Initially, many users complained about the cluttered and confusing UI. Today, the platform’s interface is clean and well organized.
The sidebar navigation offers quick and easy access to the platform’s repositories and features. The dashboard is also easy to navigate. So you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for, even if you have never set eyes on a Git repository management platform before.
More experienced Git users will find the UI familiar, with a simple learning curve.
Manage Your Entire DevOps Lifecycle
Bitbucket has a well-developed CI/CD service integrated right into your pipelines. This feature makes most other apps that you use in the development cycle obsolete. For example, you’ll be able to automatically build, test, and deploy codebase on the same platform.
This way, you can manage the entire project’s lifecycle on Bitbucket, start to finish. Moreover, you can set up CI/CD in just two steps.
Short Clone and Fetch Times
Working with large binary files can slow down your workflow. But, Bitbucket offers a Large File Storage (LFS) client to make working with large files more manageable.
LFS essentially replaces the large files in your repository with lightweight text pointer files containing references to your files. These pointer files are stored on a remote server.
The best part is LFS file handling is automated once you install and set up the client on your local machine. This feature can help to speed up your workflow if you regularly work with large files.
Easily Import Code to Bitbucket
Bitbucket lets you easily import your repositories from the various systems and hosting sites. This support includes importing repos from Google Code, CodePlex, SourceForge, GitHub, HG, and SVN.
As long as you have your code stored in a Git-based system, you shouldn’t have a problem importing it to Bitbucket. Additionally, you can also import Mercurial or Subversion source code to Bitbucket. But first, you’ll need to convert your code to Git.
Bitbucket supports a wide range of workflows. So, you can continue to work with your preferred workflow after migrating to the platform.
For example, its Centralized Workflow is perfect for teams transitioning from SVN. This workflow is not unlike Subversion, where there is a single entry point for all project changes. This point of entry is typically the central repository.
Bitbucket’s features are flexible enough to allow you to create your own workflows. So whether you prefer Forking, Gitflow, or Feature Branching, you should have an easy time using Bitbucket.
You also get a wide range of native plugins to customize your workflow further. For example, you can visualize projects with Atlassian’s SourceTree app or enhance collaboration with the Slack app. You can even pull information, merge, comment, and prompt code reviews from Slack. These deep native integrations give you full reign to work precisely how you like to work.
However, not everything is great over at Bitbucket. Like with any other platform, there are certain aspects for Bitbucket that don’t quite hit the mark.
Lackluster Community Support
Bitbucket has over 10 million users, with a decent-sized community. But, this figure is still shy of GitHub’s 50 million-strong users. So, if you work primarily on open-source projects, GitHub is an obvious alternative.
It’s also not just about the size of the development community. Bitbucket markets primarily to enterprise users, so the culture differs from GitHub. You get a sense that the Bitbucket community isn’t quite the place to discuss code or open issues.
GitHub has a far more vibrant development community. However, things might change for the better as Bitbucket becomes more mainstream.
No Mercurial Support
If you didn’t know about Bitbucket’s history, you’d find it hard to believe that the product started as an exclusively Mercurial platform. This fact is just a fascinating anecdote for most developers. But, for Mercurial diehards, the shift to Git is heartbreaking.
The Mercurial distributed version control system is far from obsolete. There are still pockets of developers that swear by it. Moreover, mercurial still has an impressively streamlined stable command line, secure history, and GUI support.
So, if you were hoping to stick with Mercurial, Bitbucket is out of the question. The platform now only supports Git. On the other hand, GitHub supports Mercurial and even SVN version control systems.
Lightweight Issue Tracker
First, Bitbucket does have an issue tracker. You can quickly turn it on from the settings section of your repository. But, this feature offers very basic functionality. You’ll need to integrate with a more powerful issue tracker like Jira. However, given the seamless Bitbucket-Jira integration, it is easy to forgive this fault.
Bitbucket is worth trying if you are looking for an affordable repository hosting service. Bitbucket’s pricing is especially attractive for small business teams. However, the platform is equally appealing to enterprise teams that value security and compliance for private, proprietary code.
Additionally, the platform is highly flexible, allowing you to retain the workflows you’re already used to. Moreover, Bitbucket has powerful deep integrations with essential Atlassian tools like Jira and Trello. If you already use Atlassian tools for your projects, it makes perfect sense to stick with Bitbucket as your preferred hosting service.
Finally, Bitbucket can be a good platform for hosting open-source projects. But, it is not the optimal choice. With more experienced players with larger communities like GitHub, the latter is the preferred choice for open-source projects.
Overall, if you are looking for an affordable, feature-rich platform for hosting and managing your private repositories, Bitbucket is a top choice.