The makers of GitLab are attempting to capitalize on the current situation at GitHub where open source project maintainers have publicized their frustrations with issue management. Last week, project maintainers published a letter called “Dear GitHub” that outlines their concerns and the solutions they hope to see implemented.
GitHub has not officially responded to these concerns, apart from a new Director of Community dropping a note on Hacker News to recognize the feedback with a disclaimer that he is “still figuring out how GitHub fits together as an organization but… happy to take a look into these issues and ensure they are considered in how future work is planned.”
GitLab, on the other hand, wasted no time in addressing the group’s concerns in a post that begins, “Dear open source maintainers:”
We want GitLab to be the best place for any software project, whether open source or not, whether big or small.
The letter of GitHub’s open source community is clearly not addressed to us, but we’re thinking a lot about the issues that were mentioned in it. We see many of these things happening and have been working on them for a long time, not in the least because we develop on a busy public issue tracker ourselves.
GitLab, which already allows project maintainers to set a template for an issue and for merge requests, is planning on adding multiple templates, and is strongly considering the suggestion of custom fields. A new issue has been created to track discussion and progress on the possibility of using a new_issue.md file for templates.
Job van der Voort, VP of Product at GitLab, addressed every concern mentioned in the open letter to GitHub. He highlighted the fact that
GitLab already has a voting system that transforms +1s into votes and noted plans for improving the placement of CONTRIBUTING.md at the top of issues screens.
Van der Voort also created a new issue for the GitLab Community Edition called “Making GitLab the best place for big open source projects.” This issue is now home to a long list of of frustrations and suggestions that were included in the original letter to GitHub. Van der Voort and contributors have responded to every single point and have created new issues for improving GitLab where necessary.
After just four days, the Dear GitHub letter has received more than 1,100 signatures from open source project maintainers. Although the authors have received no official response from GitHub, the letter has sparked some healthy discussions around the web about how code hosting services can better serve their open source communities.
Both GitHub and GitLab have built their reputations and business on supporting open source software, which has now become mainstream and more easily adopted by enterprises. Open source software runs the world. No code hosting site that aims to be the leader can afford to ignore the requests of open source project maintainers for long.