I’m looking for a free and possibly open source web-based, project management software solution Storychasers can run on our own server with a mySQL database backend, to coordinate the assorted details associated with Celebrate Oklahoma Voices 2.5 day digital storytelling workshops. The solution I’m looking or is web-based / cross-platform, permits project “templates” to be created and shared with multiple users, and has a shallow learning curve. I need to implement this ASAP. I’d love any input or suggestions you have on this need.

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FREE / OPEN SOURCE OPTIONS (not expiring demos)

WikiPedia has a helpful comparative matrix of project management solution options, and includes 7 open source choices which appear to meet our requirements:

  1. dotProject
  2. TaskJuggler
  3. Collabtive
  4. Endeavour
  5. KForge
  6. project-Open
  7. Redmine

Some of the options currently listed on the WikiPedia matrix (like Project.net) are being run by companies and given away free, but commercial support plans for enterprise users. I left those off my shortlist above. I also did not include options like OpenProj, GanttProject and Open Workbench, because they are strictly desktop-client programs and not server/web based. Some of the options listed on WikiPedia, like eGroupWare, falsely indicate they are open source when they are NOT and are strictly commercial.

Comparison of project management software - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This demonstrates how WikiPedia IS and CAN BE an extremely valuable tool for research, but as with any information source it needs to be corroborated with additional research and investigation. As an aside, we NEED to help classroom teachers, librarians, and administrators understand this. Too many educators today completely dismiss WikiPedia as a research tool, when it CAN and SHOULD be utilized appropriately to meet academic as well as professional research needs.

dotProject and TaskJuggler are both open source, server-based project management solutions I’ve encountered previously and saved to my Project Management social bookmarks. It looks like dotProject has a shallower learning curve, but I’m not positive. If you have experiences, positive or negative, with either solution I’d love to hear about them. Of the other options I included in the list above, Collabtive and Endeavour are the ones which look most promising in addition to dotProject at this point.

TRIAL / COMMERCIAL OPTIONS

ZoHo Projects doesn’t offer any project template features in its free version, and currently starts at $12 per month US. It can integrate with Google Docs, but we’re really looking for something free to use. In the past I’ve used Basecamp with several projects, and had pretty good experiences with it, but its free plan only permits 1 project and commercial pricing starts at $24 US per month. We need a solution which supports unlimited projects and ideally an unlimited number of project templates.

Manymoon looks like a great commercial collaboration / project management option with its Google App integration, and their free solution is pretty robust with unlimited projects permitted. The Manymoon pricing comparison shows the breakdown of features. “Time tracking” and “Email to Task” are features you have to pay for to use. Their “team” solution offers a lot of reporting options that would be handy. I’m NOT sure how Manymoon’s project templates compare to those by commercial project management solutions like Basecamp, Deskaway, Wrike or Comindwork. On April 28, 2010, Manymoon announced their support of templates and custom task status functionality, so these are pretty new features for them. Of course MS Project is available and may offer some web-based functionality, but I’ve generally found enterprise solutions like this from Microsoft aren’t very Mac/Apple friendly and generally offer more features for Windows clients than others. That’s something we can’t accept.

Based on my cursory research, Manymoon looks very promising, especially with its Google Docs/Apps integration. It would be simpler to use their hosted solution rather than installing, configuring and maintaining our own open source solution. At most, we’d pay $180 per year to use their full version.

I’d like to go with an open source/free solution for this Storychaser need because my own learning about it would be more applicable for schools/educators which/who don’t have extra money to pay for project management solutions. I continue to believe our students and educators need to use web-based tools (like project management solutions) to effectively implement PBL. I wrote about this in my April 2008 post, “Tools for facilitating PBL?” Telecommmunting and working from home is an option for more and more people, and we HAVE to help students in our schools learn to work more independently with collaborative groups, meet project deadlines, and provide “deliverables” according to announced specifications. Even if federal employees still are constrained in their abilities to work from home (see the 7 May 2010 Washington Post article, “Bill to expand federal workers’ telecommuting options falls short in House“) that is not true in the private sector for many organizations and companies. Whether Storychasers opts to try Manymoon or a another project management solution, I’m sure the knowledge gained will be instructive, and I’ll definitely continue to share my learning journey on this here.

What do you think of available options for “true” free / open source project management solutions? (Please don’t comment here if you’re a vendor, or to tout a “free trial” version of something that goes commercial after a certain time.)

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