Evaluating and Choosing Between Monorepo vs. Polyrepo Approaches for Code Management

Evaluating and Choosing Between Monorepo vs. Polyrepo Approaches for Code Management


In the realm of software development, the organization of codebases is a topic of much debate and discussion. Two primary paradigms have emerged as the front-runners in code management strategies: Monorepo and Polyrepo. Each approach has its unique advantages and challenges, influencing the efficiency, scalability, and security of software projects. In this post, we’ll delve into the Monorepo and Polyrepo approaches, comparing their benefits and drawbacks, and providing insights into how to evaluate and choose the best strategy for your team’s needs.

What is a Monorepo?

A Monorepo, or monolithic repository, is a single repository that contains the code for many projects, often including libraries, services, and apps that might be unrelated. This approach allows for centralized management of dependencies, streamlined code sharing across projects, and simplified global refactoring processes. Google, Facebook, and Twitter are notable examples of companies that leverage Monorepo structures for their vast codebases.

Advantages of Monorepo

  1. Simplified Dependency Management: With all projects in a single repo, managing dependencies becomes significantly easier. Updates to shared libraries are instantly available across all projects, eliminating the “dependency hell” scenario.
  2. Atomic Commits and Refactoring: Developers can make cross-project changes in a single commit, ensuring atomicity and consistency. This facilitates large-scale refactoring efforts and reduces the complexity associated with updating APIs used by multiple projects.
  3. Unified Tooling and Scripts: A Monorepo supports a single set of tools, build scripts, and testing frameworks for all projects, simplifying the development process and reducing overhead in setting up new projects.

Challenges of Monorepo

  1. Forced Dependency Management: Contrary to “Simplified Dependency Management” above, updating dependencies for a monorepo requieres that every piece of the project that uses the dependency needs to be addressed in the same change.
  2. Scalability: As the repository grows, so do the challenges related to its size. This includes longer build times, increased resource consumption, and the need for specialized tooling to handle the scale.
  3. Access Control and Security: Fine-grained access control becomes harder to manage in a Monorepo, potentially exposing sensitive parts of the codebase to unauthorized access.
  4. Versioning of Libraries: The singular, interconnected nature of the repository makes it challenging to maintain different feature sets of a library for different areas of the code base, potentially leading to compatibility issues or hindering the ability to support one area of the code base without affecting others.

What is a Polyrepo?

Polyrepo, or poly-repository, involves splitting the codebase into multiple, smaller repositories, usually organized around specific services, libraries, or teams. This approach promotes modularity, allowing teams to work independently on their respective projects with dedicated repositories.

Advantages of Polyrepo

  1. Increased Modularity: Each repository can be treated as an independent project with its own lifecycle, reducing dependencies and making the codebase easier to understand and manage.
  2. Enhanced Security and Access Control: It’s easier to implement fine-grained access control in a Polyrepo setup, as each repository can have its specific permissions, reducing the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive code.
  3. Scalability and Flexibility: Teams can adopt the tools and workflows that best suit their projects without affecting others. This also means builds are generally faster, as they are limited to the scope of individual projects.

Challenges of Polyrepo

  1. Dependency Management Complexity: Managing dependencies across multiple repositories can become challenging, often requiring additional tooling or manual synchronization to ensure compatibility.
  2. Code Reuse and Duplication: There’s a risk of code duplication across repositories, as shared utilities and libraries need to be replicated or separately maintained.
  3. Coordination Overhead: Coordinating changes that span multiple projects can be cumbersome, requiring careful planning and communication between teams to avoid integration issues.

Evaluating Monorepo and Polyrepo for Your Project

Choosing between Monorepo and Polyrepo depends on several factors related to your organization’s size, project complexity, and development practices. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision:

  • Team Size and Structure: Monorepos might be more suitable for closely-knit teams working on interconnected projects, whereas Polyrepos can benefit larger organizations with multiple independent teams.
  • Project Interdependencies: If your projects have high interdependency, a Monorepo can simplify dependency management. For projects with loose coupling, Polyrepos offer greater flexibility.
  • Build and Deployment Speed: Consider whether the build and deployment speed is a critical factor. Polyrepos generally offer faster builds for individual projects, while Monorepos may require optimized build tools to manage the larger codebase efficiently.
  • Tooling and Infrastructure: Assess your willingness and capacity to invest in specialized tooling required for managing large Monorepos or the overhead of coordinating multiple Polyrepos.


Both Monorepo and Polyrepo approaches offer distinct advantages and come with their own set of challenges. The choice between them should be guided by your organization’s specific needs, development workflow, and long-term goals. It’s also worth noting that some companies adopt a hybrid approach, maintaining a Monorepo for closely related projects while using Polyrepos for more independent ones.

Ultimately, the decision should not only consider the current state of your projects but also how you envision them evolving. As your team grows and your projects become more complex, revisiting and potentially revising your code management strategy will be key to maintaining efficiency, security, and scalability in your software development efforts.

About PullRequest

HackerOne PullRequest is a platform for code review, built for teams of all sizes. We have a network of expert engineers enhanced by AI, to help you ship secure code, faster.

Learn more about PullRequest

PullRequest headshot
by PullRequest

March 8, 2024