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You may have used Phabricator years back when it was open-source and was actively maintained by a vibrant community. As of June 1, 2021, however, after a 14-year run, the tool is no longer actively maintained, the interface feels outdated, clunky in places, and challenging for new hires to master.  If you miss the functionality Phabricator provided it’s time to evaluate alternatives.

The good news is that you now have more options when choosing tools aligned with your team’s style of working. Whether you need a complete application lifecycle management platform or a lightweight Git forge focused solely on code, today's market has it all.

But with so many choices out there, where do you start? What features matter most?

Let’s discuss some of the top Phabricator alternatives and their different features. The right tools can make all the difference in delivering quality software efficiently, so let’s set you up for successful development.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Facebook developed Phabricator back in 2010  to optimize their internal development workflows, integrating capabilities like code review, stacked diffs, repository hosting, bug tracking, and project management. Carried by its versatile code review workflow, the platform helped enhance software quality while capturing issues efficiently and streamlining task management.

  • Code review: Phabricator allowed teams to review proposed code changes through interfaces like Differential, which focused on surfacing actionable feedback to improve code health. The tool enabled inline annotations, simulated merge previews, and productivity metrics for code review processes.

  • Repository hosting: With support for Git, SVN, and Mercurial, Phabricator could host repositories and facilitate access control for development teams through its Diffusion application.

  • Bug tracking: Developers could track bugs and issues within Phabricator using Maniphest, which created tasks across projects and radiated insight into progress through customizable workflows.

  • Project management: Using a combination of applications like Maniphest, Pholio, and Projects, tasks could be tracked, milestones set, and progress reporting automated within Phabricator environments.

  • Additional integrations: The platform also enabled integrations with third-party tools like Jira, Slack, GitHub, and Google Drive to extend its capabilities.

Pros

  • Tightly integrated suite of everyday development tools.

  • An open-source platform which enabled self-hosted deployments.

  • Facilitated centralized code review workflows for teams.

  • Capable of handling large codebases and teams at scale.

Cons

  • It is no longer maintained, so you must rely on outdated features and integrations.

  • Substantial learning curve for new users.

  • Configuration can be complex with a high administrative burden.

  • You have to host Phabricator instances yourself, leading to a higher barrier to entry, more overhead, and increased maintenance complexity. 

  • Relied on a fragmented ecosystem of auxiliary tooling, rather than being a single centralized platform. 

While technically you could still maintain and host Phabricator yourself, potentially a viable option for open-source development environments on tight budgets, you should consider a Phabricator alternative to future-proof your development workflows. Let’s look at the seven best alternatives on the market in 2024. 

Graphite is one of the latest entrants to the dev tools space, bringing capabilities tuned specifically for fast iteration and collaborative development. It was built as a direct replacement for Phabricator and mirrors the functionality of the stacked diffs (or stacked PR) workflow initially made popular by Phabricator.

Graphite aims to optimize the inner dev loop, facilitating rapid review turnarounds and continuous integration. This, at present, is the closest alternative to Phabricator, enabling the same workflow features.

Better pull request management

  • PR stacking: Graphite allows the automatic grouping of logically connected pull requests in sophisticated hierarchies called stacks. All interdependent changes are structured sequentially, allowing developers to break up large feature changes into small, atomic pull requests.   Stacking has been proven to streamline workflows and accelerate development. 

  • Improved PR workflow: The PR inbox instantly highlights urgent reviews and stale PRs so you can focus attention where needed. Custom email notifications also filter only important PR updates to avoid inbox fatigue.

  • Insights: You can view historical statistics and gain insights on PR acceptance rates, review turnaround times, and workload, helping optimize team collaboration efficiency over time.

Integration with existing tools

  • GitHub integration: Graphite bi-directionally interfaces with GitHub—automatically syncing PR changes across both platforms. This maintains consistency between PR updates without tedious manual sync, enabling incremental adoption and cross-platform collaboration between Graphite and GitHub users

  • VS code extension: The Graphite extension for Visual Studio Code provides tight integration for stacked PR management right within the editor. Developers can execute complex  Git commands visually, with the push of a button, and manage stacks/PRs without switching contexts.

User experience refinements

  • Merge flexibility: For stack merges, Graphite automatically handles complex cascading rebases, taking the toil out of manually managing stacks of PRs.

  • Visually intuitive: The UI improves upon familiar paradigms, keeping the code front and center while filtering out the noise.  This enables faster onboarding without the need to relearn complex concepts.

  • Ongoing improvements: Graphite receives frequent updates, ensuring continual refinements based on user feedback. Recent additions include a new CLI and redesigned VS code extension.

  • Centralized, a diverse range of features like support for stacked pull requests, intelligent notifications, an advanced, filtered PR inbox, and a completely redesigned CLI that automates tedious complexity like squashing and rebasing. 

  • The VS Code extension feels like a natural part of the editor UI rather than a separate bolt-on. Developers can execute and handle Git commands and create/manage stacks and PRs without leaving their flow.

  • Graphite’s Insights dashboard tracks your team’s performance over time. Measuring your team’s response time, time to merge, and review cycles gives you granular data to help you identify and fix bottlenecks that slow everyone down.

  • Some engineers may be initially hesitant to adopt the stacking workflow. Adoption requires some time to acclimate, however, intuitive design accelerates onboarding.

  • Only supports GitHub. Does not work on GitLab, bitbucket, or any other version control system.

Graphite is perfect for teams moving from the OG, Phabricator, and want a purpose-built platform for the stacking workflow. So, if you want the perfect Phabricator alternative, sign up for a free Graphite account and try the stacking workflow. 

As a single application for the DevOps lifecycle, GitLab goes far beyond code review, offering organizations an integrated environment spanning project planning, coding, testing, and deployment while embedding security and collaboration tools.

  • CI/CD capabilities: GitLab has extensive CI/CD facilities, from auto-devops for standardized pipelines to granular customization of workflow stages. Infrastructure-as-Code deployment templates further simplify configuration.

  • Issue management: Flexible issue boards with assignees, milestones, and labels align teams on priority items. Issues can also be tracked from planning through post-deployment.

  • Source code management: GitLab enables centralized Git repositories with fine-grained access controls, facilitating version control and branching strategies.

  • Integration ecosystem: An expanding integration ecosystem allows GitLab to interface with external tools like Jira, GitHub, Google Workspace, Slack, and additional category leaders.

  • Kubernetes support: Native Kubernetes management and cluster integration simplifies container deployment complexities. Infrastructure can be provisioned and managed within GitLab.

  • A consolidated platform covering the development lifecycle.

  • Intuitive user interface and interaction model.

  • Secure by design as a single trusted application.

  • Scales from small teams to large enterprises.

  • Substantial learning curve across the diverse feature set.

  • Upfront resource allocation for installation and configuration.

  • Core functionality spread across different UI panels.

GitLab is a top contender for organizations wanting an integrated DevOps solution for CI/CD, source control, container orchestration, and issue tracking. The toolset is broad and highly customizable but requires upfront effort to make things work.

Any discussion of developer tools would be incomplete without GitHub, the undisputed leading code host boasting over 100 million developers and custodian for over 200 million repositories. While it initially began as Git repository storage, GitHub has recently “refounded on AI” bringing AI tooling to almost every facet of the developer experience.

  • Great for open-source projects: Code search, access controls, unlimited public repositories, and collaboration tools make GitHub the starting point for most open-source software projects.

  • Automated workflows: GitHub Actions provide workflow automation for CI/CD pipelines, issue responses, and other event-driven processes. High extensibility and community sharing aids adoption.

  • Project management: Issue tracking, pull request handling, milestone tracking, and GitHub Projects enable lightweight oversight of coding efforts. Integration with external PM tools is also available.

  • Code security: From secret scanning to dependency review and integration with security tools, GitHub employs multiple measures to help identify vulnerabilities early while recommending remediations.

  • Intuitive UI and ubiquity among developers.

  • Feature-rich free offering to accelerate adoption.

  • Vast open-source ecosystem and learning resources.

  • The developer community often provides rapid support.

  • Despite the introduction of AI, the core functionality of the PR workflow has remained largely unchanged in the last 16 years leaving gaps like a dated notification system, no support for stacked diffs, and a rigid reviewer experience.

  • You need the help of multiple additional tools for project management.

Despite GitHub’s lack of innovation on their core workflow, it’s still the ubiquitous choice for open source developers. Given GitHub's intuitiveness, consider it as a Phabricator alternative, especially where open-source collaboration or developer mindshare are priorities. 

However, do note that GitHub’s functionality gaps in their workflow can be especially challenging for closed-source enterprise organizations at scale. 

Azure DevOps Server represents Microsoft's solution explicitly tailored for development teams deeply entrenched in the Microsoft ecosystem. Offering close integration with Azure, Office 365, and Microsoft's developer tools, Azure’s DevOps Server aims to enable cross-platform application building and deployment.

  • Agile planning and tracking: Boards provide Kanban boards and backlog management with configurable workflows covering all stages of feature building. Integrations with Office 365 and Microsoft Teams facilitate information sharing.

  • CI/CD pipeline orchestration: Pipelines enable the creation of CI/CD workflows for builds, tests, and releases across environments. Support for major languages and frameworks simplifies getting started.

  • Repository management: Azure Repos provides unlimited Git and TFVC repositories with full traceability and integrated pull requests for code review.

  • Test case management: The Test Plans module details test cases and steps that can link bi-directionally to user stories, features, and requirements for end-to-end traceability.

  • Tight integration with Microsoft tools and cloud.

  • Customizable Agile planning boards.

  • Integrated security best practices.

  • Standardized CI/CD pipeline creation.

  • Steep learning curve around initial configuration.

  • Licensing complexity with multiple overlay SKUs.

  • Less intuitive for non-Microsoft shops.

  • The on-prem version lags behind the SaaS product.

Azure DevOps warrants strong consideration when leveraging broader Microsoft cloud investments and where team collaboration around Agile processes is a priority. For heterogeneous environments, ease of use may suffer.

Bitbucket is Atlassian's response to Git code collaboration in the context of broader Atlassian toolchain adoption. Combining Git repositories with flexible workflows, Bitbucket enables centralized DevOps within Atlassian's Jira and Bamboo ecosystems.

  • Git code collaboration: Bitbucket offers unlimited Git and Mercurial repositories for enterprise teams with fully-featured code review pipelines and branch management functionality.

  • Native Jira integration: Tight coupling with Jira streamlines linking issues to commits and pull requests for end-to-end traceability. Jira issue keys can be referenced directly within Bitbucket.

  • CI/CD pipelines: Integrated Bamboo builds facilitate customizable CI/CD solutions spanning testing, validation, and approvals orchestrated around Git events and user actions.

  • Access controls and security: Role-based access modeling, IP allow-listing, and mandatory 2FA provide layered security while smart mirrors deter unauthorized leaks.

  • Strong synergies across Atlassian tools.

  • User management synchronization with Jira Core.

  • Built-in CI/CD pipelines.

  • Unlimited private repositories.

  • Steep initial learning investment.

  • Constrained mainly by the Atlassian ecosystem.

  • Occasional performance complaints.

  • Mac self-hosted installs are challenging.

Bitbucket deserves prime consideration from currently invested Atlassian customers to capitalize on native integrations. For non-Atlassian-centric environments, the motivations for Bitbucket diminish.

Gitea represents a lightweight, community-driven option for teams wanting self-managed Git hosting. Developed as a minimalist fork of Gogs, Gitea offers an easy installation process and essential team collaboration facilities.

  • Code hosting and PRs: Gitea provides unlimited repositories, including private Git hosts with fine-grained access controls. Pull requests enable code review and discussion around changes.

  • Issue tracking: Native issue management allows teams to track tasks, features, and bugs within the limitations of open-source tools. External system integration is possible.

  • Wikis and notifications: Each repository supports Markdown wikis for documentation. Configurable notifications keep collaborators updated on relevant activity.

  • Access controls: Gitea provides role-based access management down to the repository level and secure authentication mechanisms.

  • Easy installation and configuration.

  • Intuitive UI that’s comparable to GitHub, thus reducing the learning curve

  • Light resource footprint giving your developers a faster workflow

  • Active open source community.

  • Fewer features than leading commercial competitors.

  • Limited native integrations.

  • Requires its own hosting infrastructure.

  • Lacks advanced security controls.

For teams wanting no-fuss self-hosting with essential collaboration support, Gitea is a good choice of tool. The minimalism settles well with some engineering teams but can leave gaps as your workflow and toolchain matures.

Google’s open-source platform, Gerrit, is a popular solution for collaborative code review and repository management. It’s an active repo on GitHub with over 61,000 commits and 200 forks. 

Gerrit offers various functionalities, making it a versatile tool for software development and project management.

  • Side-by-side code reviews: Review diffs, leave comments and feedback, assign additional reviewers as needed.

  • Full linear history: See and compare every individual commit throughout the repository’s history.   

  • Project and custom dashboards: Create and customize dashboards for managing repos and tracking team performance. 

  • Facilitates a stacking workflow by encouraging a single commit and review workflow 

  • Review scoring allows for multiple reviewers to rate the quality of a commit before merging (-2 to 2 scale)

  • Comprehensive commit history make it easy to identify and revert previous code changes

  • Many users note that there’s a steep learning curve, calling the workflow and interface, “very complex,” “confusing,” and even “insanity.”

  • Designed as a standalone repo management system rather than a complementary tool for GitHub. (Although you can set up a mirror for GitHub.)

  • Possible performance issues are widely reported via the Gerrit issue tracker. Users mention slowdowns, sync problems, and other bottlenecks in specific use cases.

Gerrit offers some features that improve the quality of the code review process. But, the consensus among developers seems to be that it’s a tool aimed at improving top-down control versus a tool designed to make individual developers more effective or efficient. 

Choosing the right development platform is important for engineering effectiveness and software quality. Consider the following key factors when finding the right tool for your team:

The number of developers on a team determines how sophisticated a tool you need. A simple GitHub project board may be enough for a startup with five developers to track issues and code reviews.

However, a 50-person engineering team across multiple products needs systems and workflows that focus on improving individual productivity. They also need tools that simplify complex processes (like a dedicated pull request inbox). And they need insights into the team’s overall performance to quickly identify issues that could dramatically reduce overall throughput. 

Integrations determine how seamlessly your toolchain works together. If you use Jira for ticket tracking, Bitbucket connects code commits directly to Jira tickets without manual syncing between systems.

This prevents developers from constantly context-switching between apps, which hurts productivity. Similarly, Graphite can connect with your GitHub and Slack, allowing you to work between systems without switching contexts.

User experience factors like clean UI, intuitive navigation, helpful documentation, and quick ramp-up time determine adoption across diverse technical proficiency levels.

If only select highly skilled developers can navigate a complex platform interface and configuration, usage suffers. Tools like GitHub, focus extensively on refining interfaces and increasing simplicity for broader access.

The breadth, depth, and quality of features determine how well a platform maps to specialized needs around code, collaboration, planning, or delivery while providing a consolidated hub for end-to-end visibility. 

Teams relying heavily on code review efficiency may want purpose-built tools like Graphite over more generalized platforms. Audit must-have workflows before expanding functionality.

Development platforms balance capabilities to cost across a spectrum of free, freemium, premium, and enterprise tiers. GitHub's free offering provides robust functionality for early-stage startups. 

As usage grows with more private repos and contributors, premium plans add advanced controls. Tools like Gitlab may help larger companies scale with robust security, compliance, and automation capabilities.

Choosing ineffective tools hurts engineer productivity and software quality. The wrong solutions can frustrate developers, leading to disengagement.

Conversely, platforms aligning seamlessly to team practices unlock faster innovation, uphold quality, and boost collective accomplishments. Smooth technology elevates outcomes.

There’s no doubt that Phabricator marked a leap forward for many engineering teams. 

It introduced a number of new workflows and philosophies about how teams should collaborate and ship code. And it made life easier. It helped teams do their best work.

Fast forward to today and there are many viable options available that offer many of the same features and functionality as Phabricator. Some introduce even newer (and better) improvements. Others are designed to meet the needs of specific teams or fit within established workflows. 

So which one’s right for your team?

It depends. But, TL;DR:

  • Graphite: Best for fast-moving startups and large enterprises with senior-leaning development teams who want to implement stacking without a bunch of setup and maintenance.

  • GitHub: Best for open-source projects with a lot of collaborators.

  • GitLab: Best for enterprises looking for as close to an “all-in-one” platform as possible.

  • Azure DevOps: Best for teams committed to the Microsoft environment and tech stack.

  • Bitbucket: Best for teams committed to the Atlassian environment and tech stack.

  • Gitea: Best for low-frills, self-managed Git repo hosting.

  • Gerrit: Best for teams struggling with code review who need tighter top-down control.


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