Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Project tracking open source Basecamp-like solutions

Once upon a time I've asked people on LinkedIn about collaboration software they prefer to manage their business and received a lot of interesting options that were optimal for different needs.

But I have my own specific needs, so decided to try only those that meets the following requirements:
  • Open source - to be able to customise the system for our own needs
  • Free of charge - I'm starting new low-investments business so can't afford to pay for subscription at this starting level
  • Basecamp-like - at least more or less it should be similar to Basecamp from 37signals as they are gurus in usability as for me. I had an opportunity to work with dotProject but it doesn't satisfy my usability needs, because I was very impressed with Basecamp interface.
  • PHP web development stack  - because I'm a PHP developer and want to be able to hack into the source code.

So I've found and managed to test lots of solutions. All projects presented here are classified as good solutions selected by me. Nice job guys, sorry for critics, its really very subjective.

I'll group all options with my own classification.

Classic project management software


I refused to choose these due to interface too overloaded with details and usability lower that my own requirements. Anyway these projects can be very useful for lots of other people.

Redmine

site: http://www.redmine.org/
features: http://www.redmine.org/projects/redmine/wiki
live demo: http://demo.redmine.org/

ProjectPier

site: http://www.projectpier.org/
features: http://www.projectpier.org/manual/tour/
live demo: No

ProjectFork

site: http://projectfork.net/
features: http://projectfork.net/tour.php
live demo: http://demo.projectfork.net/

phprojekt

site: http://www.phprojekt.com/
features: http://www.phprojekt.com/features
live demo: http://www.phprojekt.com/demo

todoyu

site: http://www.todoyu.com/
features: http://www.todoyu.com/en/features/
live demo: http://www.todoyu.com/en/online-demo/

Large project management software


I refused to choose these due to their "Enterprise level" size and my company is too small to use all available features.
Anyway these projects can be very useful for large bureaucratic companies that has an requirements to manage their resources and finances.

]Project-Open[

site: http://www.project-open.com/
features:  http://www.project-open.com/en/products/project-open-in-a-nutshell.html
live demo: http://demo.project-open.net/

fengoffice

site: http://www.fengoffice.com/
features: http://www.fengoffice.com/web/products.php
live demo: http://www.fengoffice.com/web/demo/

Project management software of my choice


These projects looks very attractive for me and suits most of my usability and interface design requirements.
Due to these projects touched me deeply :) , I want to add note of critics for them.

Collabtive

site: http://collabtive.o-dyn.de/
features: http://collabtive.o-dyn.de/about.php?slide=2
live demo: http://collabtive.o-dyn.de/demo/

Personal critics: Users can't leave their comments and track time they spend on task right in the "Tasks" section.

openAtrium

site: http://openatrium.com/
features: http://openatrium.com/features
live demo: No

Personal critics: There is no any ability to track time spend on tickets :( generally system is very promising but time tracking is a "must have" feature for business.

Ofuz

site: http://www.ofuz.com/opensource/
features: http://www.ofuz.com/tour.php
live demo: No

Personal critics: This one looks very innovative and impressed me much.

Anyway these guys doesn't provide, at least with their free open-source version, any ability to track time spend on tasks. I was able to use time tracking functions on their online service.

Additional drawback for me it a lack of tasks oriented conversations, so to have an ability to comment a task that will help task owner and person responsible for task to discuss questions that appear during work under the task. Found the ability to add comments to the tasks on their online service.

There is a lack of reports that will allow to see the statistics of tracked hours, the amount of work and hours spend by each worker, closed/open tasks statistics, etc... The regular use case would be: see the amount of working hours spend on tasks during this [week, month, date interval] by or per [company, worker, group of workers]. I can found this feature on Basecamp in "Reports" section and think that its a must have feature for manager/company owner and even for worker to see limited statistics related to it and  track its own productivity.

And also the ideal functionality would be to generate invoices automatically based on completed tasks for specific project/company, time spend on each task tracked by workers, and invoice totals calculated depending on workers hourly rate or project fixed price.

Anyway "Ofuz" is the most promising solution I've found for now.

Conclusion


There is no actually good systems or bad. All systems are good for the list of issues they aimed to resolve. The only way everyone can and should give a reasonable answer for him self - is to install and try each project manually and then decide for its self.

As for personally me, - none of available projects were 100% suitable for me, so my ideal is still a Basecamp as for now.
Possibly I will think about customising/contributing to some of these projects like "Ofuz", "openAtrium" or "Collabtive" to adopt their functionality for my needs.



Cheers!

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