The meetup started with a diverse and tasty breakfast:)
In the first session “Do more with GitLab”, Tamir Gefen (ALMtoolbox CEO) provided an overview of GitLab as an end-to-end ALM tool (“idea to production”). It was nice to see the huge progress GitLab went through in just a couple of years, from a simple Git hosting solution to a useful, fast, and feature-rich collaboration tool. One of the main reasons is that the tool’s core is open source, and with over 1500 contributors you can get a lot done in a short time.
It was also surprising to see a research, showing that GitLab is by far the most preferred on-premise Git hosting solution. I would guess that the primary reason is the price – the basic edition is free, and recommended for teams with less than 100 users. Moreover, the ‘enterprise starter’ edition is quite cheap – 39$/user per year.
The next session was a demo of the tool by Alex Karnovsky (from ALMtoolbox), showcasing an entire process from raising an idea for improvement in a chat room to having this idea deployed on a production server, in 11 minutes. GitLab’s web interface seems convenient and friendly, and (as demos go) everything was very fast and smooth.
We went over the entire lifecycle – creating an issue, creating a project (by importing an existing Git repo), tracking issues on board, changing code on a branch and merging it via merge request (aka pull request in other tools), triggering ci pipelines, deploying to production, monitoring and analytics.
The best part was to see how deployment to production is done through the chat tool (Mattermost in this case) – just type “deploy staging to production” and it magically happens. Quite impressive. Of course, it’s quite easy when you have containers and Kubernetes 🙂
After the break we had two short sessions. First, Daniel from AT&T shared their experience with GitLab from the past few years. They are using it as their central Git server, coming over from ClearCase, and bottom line was that “everything is just so much better”. I can relate, as someone who is working with both tools. He also mentioned that with GitLab he feels like they belong to a certain “member’s club”, since GitLab users really like working with it and talking about it. In their company they have all possible Git platforms, and they see more and more users tend to prefer GitLab over other tools.
The last session was given by Eliran Mesika, GitLab employee which gave a short overview about GitLab and its roadmap. Things like: how versions are planned and released (every 22nd of the month), new features which recently were added and new features planned for the upcoming versions. Did you know that almost all GitLab employees are working from home, everywhere around the world? pretty amazing.
There were also a lot of technical issues discussed – advanced features, integrations, security, hooks, api … I won’t get into it in this post but it was very interesting and it got me intrigued.
All in all, I highly recommend to read more about GitLab. Considering the pace at which they release new features, there is a lot more to come. Definitely worth giving it a try (remember, the basic version is free!).