GitHub launches projects, intensifying the battle of the development ecosystem

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Microsoft’s GitHub projects allow development teams to more fully integrate project planning and processes, but migration hurdles could limit the tool’s usefulness to users already working on GitHub at the moment.

The projects, released in beta last year and made generally available last week, add an extra layer of functionality to GitHub Issues, a tool that helps developers track bugs, comments, ideas, and tasks in the code repository. Projects syncs team planning to GitHub, with automation handling mundane tasks like issue updates. While the projects will likely attract GitHub users, developers using similar tools outside of the GitHub ecosystem, such as Atlassian’s Jira or JetBrains’ YouTrack, are unlikely to make the switch, industry experts say.

The general release of Projects implies GitHub’s intention to shift feature development more to the left, incorporating more early-stage development capabilities, said Jim Mercer, vice president of DevOps and DevSecOps research at IDC. .

“GitHub wants to be a transparent platform for development and DevOps professionals,” he said. “It started with improvements to GitHub issues to add project tables, and GitHub continued to improve capabilities to enable tiering, custom fields, tables, and more.”

GitHub will get significant traction because of the added value Projects brings to the table, like saving developers from bouncing between tools because everything is close to their code and where they work, Mercer said.

Mercer said he’s heard of project adoption or development teams’ adoption plans before, but noted that GitHub is entering a competitive market. Jira, released in 2002, has strong market penetration and more robust capabilities, meaning Projects poses no immediate threat to Jira’s ubiquity, he said.

Migration is a major stumbling block

In addition to centralizing project planning, Projects understand organizational features like custom fields, table views, and a spreadsheet-like table to make it easy for teams to see what work has been completed and what projects are still in progress.

These features aren’t unique to Projects, and GitHub may have difficulty attracting external developers to the tool. Jira, YouTrack and Trello solve similar tasks – such as collecting and storing ideas, collaborating and tracking status as well as the ability to share boards or individual tasks, said Leonid Ivankin, Android developer at MTS group, a technology company. mobile telesystems.

Reconfiguring all these services and retraining employees is a very difficult and time-consuming process, even though there are migration tools from GitHub.

Leonid IvankinSenior Android Developer, MTS Group

GitHub Projects also lags behind Jira when it comes to collaborating across disparate repositories, said Yegor Skornyakov, development manager at Alty, a product outsourcing company. While Projects is built specifically for GitHub, Jira can integrate with repositories from GitHub, Bitbucket, and GitLab, which is one of the reasons Alty uses Jira as its primary project management tool, he said. .

Skornyakov and Ivankin agree that the logistics of moving to new platforms are difficult and impractical because employees can be too entrenched in other application lifecycle management tools.

For example, Jira may have gone deep into a development environment with integrated services, such as Slack — a tool used for collaboration, Ivankin said.

Alty has also invested in the Jira ecosystem, leveraging third-party apps in its market such as Tempo for time tracking, Leave Tracker for vacation and sick days, and Clerk Invoices for invoicing and management. processes, Skornyakov said. Companies get used to using tools like these, which makes switching to a new platform more difficult, he said.

“Reconfiguring all these services and retraining employees is a very difficult and time-consuming process, even though there are migration tools from GitHub,” Ivankin said.

However, if companies wanted to go through a reconfiguration, there is no migration tool available in GitHub to help them do so. The only option currently is to start a project from scratch with a GitHub projects template, according to GitHub. Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment on whether or when migration tools would be available.

Ivankin said the projects may not be an attempt to directly compete with tools like Jira or YouTrack, since developers working in other project management systems are unlikely to make the switch. Rather, it is a battleground between ecosystems, the outcome of which is difficult to predict, he said.

Git open source marketing

GitHub Projects and GitLab, another Microsoft-owned collaborative software development platform, have taken different routes to bring the open-source Git project to market, Mercer said.

The two tools, which both offer free tiers, serve different purposes. GitLab is for large DevOps and DevSecOps projects, while GitHub Projects within Issues is available for anyone working on GitHub, from individuals to teams.

GitHub Projects also focuses on work management, while GitLab covers additional areas such as repositories and pipeline automation, taking a broader view of what exactly a “project” is, said Ankur Papneja. , product manager at Contrast Security.

Mercer thinks the biggest difference between the tools is more holistic. “GitLab has been working on Agile project management and planning for a while now and has more capabilities,” Mercer said. “However, GitHub has more Microsoft-backed developers and code.”

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