Monorepo vs Multi Repo

Greg Foster
Greg Foster
Graphite software engineer

Deciding between a monorepo and a multi-repo setup is a significant choice that can affect the workflow, collaboration, and development speed of your team. Here is an analysis to guide you through the decision-making process.

Understanding Monorepo and Multi-Repo

  • Monorepo: A single repository containing all necessary code for various projects, lending itself to microservices architecture​​.

  • Multi-Repo (Polyrepo): Each project is held in an entirely separate version-controlled repository, a common approach when starting new projects​​.

Advantages of Monorepo

  • Visibility: Monorepos offer greater accountability, with many projects visible to a wide audience within the organization, enhancing security features​​.

  • Collaboration: A unified codebase fosters better collaboration, allowing developers to share and reuse assets efficiently​​.

  • Speed: Monorepos can accelerate development by enabling atomic changes across multiple projects with a single action​​.

Advantages of Multi-Repo

  • Simplicity: Each repository remains separate, making it easier to manage individual project complexities.

  • Flexibility: Different teams can choose specific tools and workflows best suited for their project without affecting others.

Considerations for Decision Making

  • Scale: Monorepos can be more challenging to manage as they grow, while multi-repos can remain manageable but may require more coordination.

  • Tooling: The choice may depend on the availability of tools and your team’s expertise in using them effectively for either setup.

  • Security and Access Control: Multi-repos can offer finer-grained access control, while monorepos may require more sophisticated permission management systems.

Industry Examples

Large companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter have successfully implemented monorepos, illustrating the viability of this approach for managing vast codebases with numerous projects​​.

Transitioning Between Structures

Moving from a multi-repo to a monorepo involves consolidating all projects into a single repository and then refactoring and consolidating to unify the codebase​​.

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