Free Open Source Software continues to drive project management software. The following discussion is on 7 of the most popular web-based project management software that FOSS community offers for small to large businesses , most of which are free of cost or require nominal subscription rates.
While all the projects are web-based allowing CEOs to the entry-level employee working on the project to ensure focused participation in the project, each of the 7 have their own advantages making the decision of choosing the right software for your project rather tough. We are going to review the following tools: WebCollab, ClockingIT, Codendi, EGroupWare, Project HQ, ProjectPier, Trac, Collabtive, php-collab, phpEasyProject, Project.net, Project-open, Redmine, Taskjuggler
WebCollab is open source web-based project management software (General Public License) that has been around for close to a decade now. Begun in 2003, using PHP, WebCollab’s current version is 3.10 and continues to receive support from the development community, with the last update made in May 2012.
- The talking point for WebCollab is the intuitive screen layouts that allows for easy reading. This means that employees do not need hands-on training to use WebCollab.
- Each user can be assigned a right and permission for use. Hence, in collaborative work scenario, groups can have a hierarchical system of control and access.
- Progress of each task or project can be tracked with respect to approaching deadline through graph bars and other graphical representations. Every change can be highlighted so that users can see the edits.
- Another unique point that endears to users is that any new additions of items or changes can all be emailed to all concerned users.
- It has been in active use for close to a decade now and so far only one security report has been raised. WebCollab is definitely secure, stable and agile for fast and rapid completion of projects.
Requirements for Server
Apache, PHP (with mbstring), MySQL or PostregSQL
Developed to be a groupware for collaborative management of projects via the web, WebCollab has proved to be the right tool for graphic intensive projects as well as projects that have several tasks-within-tasks type of projects.
Clocking IT is a Ruby on Rails project designed by Norwegians Erlend and Ellen Simonsen in 2007. ClockingIT is a unique open source time-and-task management tool. The developers aim at making Clocking IT bridge the work scope between consultants and executives on a particular project.
- Real-time user updates is possible. All users are allowed access to a widget-based dashboard. These widgets are easily customizable to meet project goals and can be added or removed as the project progresses.
- Timelines for updates are available at all times, including when tasks were edited, completed.
- The USP with ClockingIT is that all schedules are displayed via interactive Gantt charts allowing users to build on a work-in-progress task list.
- Filters can be used seamlessly for improved experience and precision. In fact, users can easily save such filters like a quick-access option for regular views.
- Files can be stored and uploaded on ClockingIT allowing collaborative use of all file collateral of the project.
- Periodic Time –tracking reports can be generated in CSV format.
Requirements for Server
Ruby on Rails, MySQL
For users who are seeking a quick access, simple interface that allows real time use of Gantt charts ClockingIT is the collaborative online tool for project Management.It essentially allows web-based collaborative management of a project, essentially where external Subject Matter Experts or technical consultants are involved. Available as a hosted product, the scope for customization is enormous and works like an in-house software for large organizations
Codendi is a 2009 product by Xerox that later become available as a GNU GPL application lifecycle management collaborative open source solution that addresses industrial development needs with a focus on project development and collaboration. This software is based on the open source standard LAMP (Linux RedHat/CentOS, Apache, MySQL, PHP) architecture and allows employees across the organization to work and management projects through a simple web interface.
- The project is designed to manage the project across the entire team, which includes Project Managers, experts and technical leaders as well as IT Managers– Advantage- all stakeholders in the project become part of the management process.
- Collaboration is accelerated and processes become reliable, ensuring better project status, as well as the deliverables.
- Greatest advantage is the vast choice of tools it offers to customize project management to your industrial needs.
- Agile Methods ranging from SCRUM to XP as against other conventional waterfall life-cycle management.
- Another great advantage for large-sized projects is the possibilities to maintain high quality consistency. With Codendi, platform-driven quality processes such as CMMI, ISO9001, ITIL have been possible.
Requirements for Server
Apache, MySQL, PHP
As a web based project management software, all tools such as tracker, document manager, CVS and versioning code as well as reporting are possible.
EGroupWare is a PHP-based open source groupware product that allows small businesses to enterprises to find project management solutions. Currently available in version 1.8, it is a stable version released in May 2012.
- eGroupware proves advantageous in managing large projects as it can be accessed via native web-interface as well as supported clients such as Novell Evolution, Microsoft Outlook or on mobile devices through SynML.
- It allows users, working on various platforms to manage projects, contacts as well as work-lists. Developed using X-AMP system, it does not require a specific operating system and is therefore accessible on browsers of various platforms.
- An informal log called Infolog is ideal for tasks and notes applications. It also has integration with IMAP webmail client allowing access to SQL database/LDP by contact-manager.
- App integration is optimized for project managers as is the resource management or inventory management feature through the calendar on eGroupware.
- Time-tracking, bug-tracking apps are integrated so that project managers have better control. Look out for the SiteMgr, which is a web-based authoring system along with refined access control systems.
Requirements for server
Apache, PHP 5.2.3+, (PHP 5.3 is explicitly supported and recommended)
MySQL 5.0+ or MariaDB? 5.1+ or Postgres 8.0+
This is the collaborative project management tool for small to medium enterprises looking for latest solutions on conservative IT-spending budgets. Great features and performance as well!
Project HQ advantages
- The first advantage Project HQ offers over other products in this genre is its risk mitigation feature- it helps projects to scale to new technologies, include complex business needs or integrate with challenges with limited capacities.
- Project HQ includes features that help diverse teams working on the project from various environments to have a common work platform, through Wiki integration. With this feature, Project HQ allows companies to focus on the execution and management of the project and not the challenges, limitations of the team proper.
- In addition to the focus Project HQ brings to software project management, an important advantage is that it improves the post implement life-cycle. Largely helps in continuing with the core development team for delivery of speedy and agile future solutions with unique issue-tracking feature.
- Cost mitigation is another major reason Project HQ finds great favor amongst software development companies. Being an open source platform and free licensing product Project HQ does remain cost-effective. The average ratio of performance versus cost for Project HQ is rated very high, in comparison to products in this class.
- The intuitive user interface also proves to be hugely helpful for quick adoption of this product; most importantly a ticketing management overview of the entire project.
Requirements for server
Python 2.5 or 2.6, or Python 2.4 with hashlib installed
SQLite, MySQL or PostgreSQL (and pysqlite, MySQL-python or psycopg2)
Pylons 0.9.7 (this will be automatically installed when you install the .egg file)
SQLAlchemy 0.5 or higher (this will be automatically installed when you install the .egg file)
Apache or another web server (with mod_wsgi and mod_python)
Project HQ allows companies to have complete control on all factors allowing for faster project development as the database remains largely independent of the entire online project management.
ProjectPier is a self-hosted PHP application, running on free open source license and is used extensively in organizations for project management, much on the lines of commercial groupware/project management.
- In comparison to other similar software, the advantage of Project Pier is that it allows scaling as well as self-hosting features.
- As a Groupware, Project Pier proves to be cost-effective, in terms of licenses and is a great advantage as it can be rapidly deployed.
- As a web-based product it is easy and well-organized for quick use. Usability and Everywhere features with E-mail notifications that inform about new milestones, messages as well as tasks, and proves to be a winning feature on Project Pier.
- It allows unrestricted number of projects to be implemented. Corresponding number of clients, users and other objects too can be used.
- Latest release includes new function features running on jQuery and Ajax bringing advanced technologies to project management. Large-sized teams can easily collaborate as all tools accessibility is via the web.
Requirements for server
Apache, PHP5+ with (GD and SimpleXML), MySQL 4.1+ with InnoDB support
As a very agile and web-based project management product, it has been successful on large-sized projects. As self-hosted software, it allows unlimited usage of space, traffic, MySql and mailbox.
Trac is a 2006 released Python-based open source project management software that can also be used for bug tracking. Available as Modified BSD license, 2009 onwards, Trac was built for interface with Subversion. Essentially a tool used by software development companies, it has the following advantages over similar products …
- It has a detailed and best-production for HELP documentation as well as support sites, given its open source background.
- Working with Wiki (which is essentially a database of collective database that can be edited collaboratively or by all users) proves to be a very powerful free project management tool.
- Another advantage with Trac is that it allows the hyperlinking of information – starting with the bug database; allowing revision of control and overseeing the wiki content through the Genshi interface.
- Project managers/administrators have great control over the permissions to be granted. A timeline is always available providing clear overview of event occurrence.
- Its greatest advantage is that it can be used across-platforms from Windows to various versions of Linux/Unix and Mac. Report generation is another great feature that helps in improving the total software management experience as are the layout and design.
Requirements for server
Python 2.5-3.0,setuptools 0.6+, Genshi 0.6+
SQLite, PostreSQL or MySQL
Trac is shipped with a web server but you can use Apache (with mod_wsgi, mod_python) or any FastCGI capable server
Trac is a well established bug tracking tool for mostly software projects. It has been well established for a while in the open source software industry. Its integration with subversion and its own wiki features makes it a must tool for software projects.
Collabtive is an online open source project management tool. It allows you create Tasklists for your project team and communicate with the members via messages. After logging in, you can create projects and add as many users as you wish to discuss the job at hand (though this is not necessary).
To use Collabtive, you need PHP. You can, however, use software like XAMPP, WAMP etc. to get PHP support. Once this is done, installation becomes a piece of cake. Download Collabtive and extract all the files in a folder which you will place in the directory of the software you used (e.g. XAMPP). Locate a file named ‘install.php’ in this folder and open it. Enter the necessary details and open ‘index.php’.
Collabtive is great software because its interface is simple, yet stylish. There is only one drawback in this software: the user will not be able to create Gantt charts. But that’s about it. As far as the benefits are concerned, there is one too many:
- You can create unlimited projects, milestones, and tasklists
- Receive email notifications
- Customize the themes
- UTF-8 support
- Unlimited users
- Messaging and instant messaging
phpCollab is another online open source project management tool that makes the task of creating a successful project easy. The feature that makes phpCollab distinct from other software tools is its dual Client and Consultant areas. What does this achieve? The client will provide the project outline and the consultant will perform functions like adding tasks and assigning deadlines. The client can, all this time, keep an eye on the progress of the project easily.
Since it is a web based system, you need the intranet to run it. It is easy to install as well. PhpCollab has a bulletin board that can be use by the client and the consultant to communicate about the project. Apart from adding new tasks, the client will be able to edit the present tasks as well.
You will also find a support system where the client can add tickets and the consultant can respond. The “Scope Creep” feature helps both parties access the monetary issues as well. Some drawbacks are also to be expected.
Firstly, in the intranet, the client must be given access to the consultants’ servers. This can act as a security concern. Moreover, phpCollab can only enable export as a CSV file, which means the data to be used in the project will be limited.
- Activity manager
- Tasks based on the project
- User management
- Project administration
The basic idea behind phpEasyProject is communicated by the name itself. Usually, project management software have high license fees. This makes them inaccessible for independent and small businesses or service providers. Hence, phpEasyProject provides an affordable solution with easy configuration so that these businesses would also benefit.
To run this software, you need:
- Web server, Apache 1.3x/2.0 of IIS
- PHP (version 4.1.0)
- Database servers like MySQL 3.23.x, 4.0.x, 4.1.x
Note that you can also use PHP 4.4.2 or 5.1.1. To use PHP, set “register_globals=off” in its configurations. Moreover, if you want to use phpEasyProject is various languages, you have to use MySQL version 4.1.x or 5.0.x as they have UNICODE support.
Some of its features are as follows. PhpEasyProject provides independent platforms for both the server and client. Moreover, it is PHP4 and PHP5 capable. The Smarty Template Engine allows quicker design and adaptation. Plus, each of the 4 features mentioned at the beginning have their own interesting components.
For example, the Activity Manager allows export of data in HTML or XML, where as the User Management allows position division and sub divisions like co-workers, store managers, project managers.
Project.net is also based on the open source software technology that is being discussed here. It helps the users improve the performance of their projects efficiently, i.e. in the lowest cost possible. Some features of Project.net that help in project management include collaboration, tracking issues, organization of documents, creating reports etc.
Setting up and installing project.net is a bit difficult as compared to the other software we have discussed so far. The installation zip file takes a while to download. Once it is done, unzip the contents, which will take more or less the same time. After this, follow the link “startInstaller.bat” to complete the process.
Moreover, to fully learn how to function each feature properly, you have to go over the software documentation. The good thing is that the Project.net wiki site offer great support and provides information on every project management issue.
Apart from being free like most of its counterparts, Project.net excels in many features. To begin with, it offers discussion groups where you can chat with the members of the team. As the project manager, you will even get to know who didn’t receive the messages.
Moving on, you can also create reports though email, which discuss the progress of the project. These and other features make project.net one of the best project management software tools out there. Please note that this software has been created for companies (both and new and established) and IT. Freelancers and small business will find it too complicated and beyond their scope.
Project-open is more than just a project manager. It has all the necessary tools for portfolio management and enterprise resource planning (ERP). In other words, project-open has everything needed to run a small scale business, such as resource management, time sheet management, human resource planning etc.
With the release of version 3.4, this software solution will make its way among the top project management tools in the market. Most project-open’s counterparts focus just on the project-related tasks such as creating tasks and monitoring them. This software, on the other hand possesses all the features that can be customized to meet the requirements of an organization.
You can select all the components that you want your users to see when you set up the PO, along with who will access each component. As your requirements grow (for example the business expands), you always include other modules to increase the functions of the software without having to set up everything again.
Although project-open is free, you can always spend a little extra to obtain better service, extensions, and even training. It is not even necessary for you to host project-open on your own servers. You can subscribe to the project-open team and they will host the software, along with taking care of other issues.
Note: Some users have complained about installation issues regarding this software on windows. The website given below also specifies clearly that Project-open is not supported on Windows 98 and earlier versions. If also face such problems, or want to view discussions on these issues, visit this forum.
Redmine is an online open source project management tool that is ideal for issue management. It is easy to use as you just have to include a few collaboration tools, version control system, and other primary functions necessary for managing a project. It is a free and open source tool for simple tasks in the organization such as maintenance.
About its usage, Redmine can be run on all the popular systems like Windows, Linux, Mac, Unix etc. Ruby is the main requirement in this case. You can read about Redmine support, compatibility issues, database requirements, and installation procedures here.
Some of the favorable features of Redmine are:
- You can update tickets in batches
- Different roles can be set for the same user for multiple projects
- It supports 34 languages
- The features are not extensive, making the learning curve short
- You can customize the issue tracking system in various ways
In all fairness, however, let it be known that Redmine is not a software for critical and detailed projects. At best, you can use it for support or maintenance tasks that require simple commands to be communicated. Its basic function is the only drawback one can think of.
Finally, we have Taskjuggler. Unlike some of the tools mentioned in this article, Taskjuggler is for serious and complicated management issues. It gives you better tools and facilities for overseeing a job than the average project management software and Gantt chart editing tools. To assist your venture from its inception to completion, Taskjuggler offers features like:
- Risk management
- Resource tasking
- Project scoping
- Cost and revenue planning.
Taskjuggler is primarily built for Unix and Linux systems. Using Taskjuggler can provide certain advantages. To begin with, it has a “Resource Conflict Solver”. The purpose of this feature is to avoid the occurrence of double bootings.
Moreover, you can assign running costs to a resource as well (TaskJuggler is unique in this regard). The project tracking support the client to monitor the progress of the job. If you are engaged in offshoring, the, multiple time zone planning feature will help you immensely.
As far as the drawbacks are concerned, TaskJuggler cannot be run on other platforms like Windows. Moreover, since it is a static state system, bringing any updates can prove to be troublesome. All in all, TaskJuggler lives up to its tagline, i.e. a “Project Managers Delight”!