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Who's doing what? A bit on project planning.

by Jason Moore — last modified Nov 20, 2009 06:50 AM

These are some thoughts on various open source project management software packages and which one we ended up using for our current project.

Luke and I had a nice little google document that listed some major milestones for this 2 year NSF project we've gotten ourselves into, but it left a little to be desired. So we went on the hunt for something a bit better that would help us keep from getting too far off track.

We really wanted to find a product for Plone that had some kind of Gantt chart or project management task and milestone scheduler but were too lucky. The only two we found were for earlier versions of Plone and hadn't really be updated in at least three years:

mxm Project Management
This was exactly what we wanted. It is a Plone product and would allow our web users to collaboratively edit tasks and a Gantt chart. Plus is would already be on the web for sharing purposes. It hasn't been upgraded to Plone 3, but maybe one day...
Another Plone product but only seemed to have some outdated alpha releases. The author's website claims to have some more advanced versions, but they haven't decided to release them yet.

Since we couldn't find a suitable Plone product, we started browsing the offerings of the open source world for a solution.

kPlato is the Koffice equivalent to MS Project. It looked nice and clean, with some nice features that allowed for some detail control. It is designed for the KDE desktop environment.
This is an application written in Java and it offers some nice exports (pdf, html, png), webdav based collaboration, and several chart displays.
OpenProj is also an MS Project type clone, that seems like should be in the OpenOffice suite, as is is already carried in the StarOffice suite. Seems to have lots buttons and features.
This is the package for the power users. We were tempted to use it, especially because you feed it a text document with tasks and dependencies and it spits back a bunch of charts telling you how to organize your project. We decided against it because we would be spending more time learning how to run the software than actually working on our project...maybe one day.
Planner, a clean simple package for the GNOME desktop environment. It exports to pdf and html and has practically no learning curve.

We decided to go with Planner due to its simplicity and html export function. After a couple of hours I had the majority of our project detailed. I still wish that there was a planning software package that didn't have the resources built in. All I really want to due is to list tasks in Gantt type format, add people's names to the tasks, add a start and end date, and track the percentage complete (oh yeah, and all in Plone). Maybe we will have to write it one day.

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