Open-Source Alternative to Basecamp: ProjectPier

A number of companies use 37 SignalsBasecamp, a hosted project management, collaboration and tracking application online. It features a rich interface and many layers of administration and accountability. basecamp dashboard

Branching from an early open-source version of Basecamp, activeCollab is an alternative that can be installed and managed on a company’s own servers or local network, but has become a licensed product since it left beta.
activeCollab dashboard

Enter ProjectPier, which I installed and have started using for many of my clients after reading about the application.

From the developer site:

ProjectPier is a Free, Open-Source, self-hosted PHP application for managing tasks, projects and teams through an intuitive web interface. ProjectPier will help your organization communicate, collaborate and get things done Its function is similar to commercial groupware/project management products, but allows the freedom and scalability of self-hosting. Even better, it will always be free.

It was easy and intuitive to set up new clients and assign them to projects, and create milestones and to-do items for everyone. Other key features that I found useful include:

  • sharing and tagging of important files
  • communication and notification settings, including e-mail and RSS
  • custom theming and form creation

If you can live without many of the Ajax-y bells and whistles that Basecamp touts, as well as the real-time whiteboard and team time-tracking, ProjectPier is a solid application for collaboration. Download the source code and try it out!

Agile Philosophy for More Than Just Software Development

I posted a link to Getting Real About Agile Design to the studio message board recently, and it set off quite a discussion internally. A number of people were hung up on the phrase “software development” and weren’t able to see the applications of planned flexibility for the greater business model. Admittedly, it is quite challenging in contrast to the waterfall model of project workflow, but Agile practices seem more fitting to the attitude and goals of this business.

From the article:

Agile is here to stay. The economic difficulties of the past months have finally put waterfall out of its misery; now more than ever, long requirements phases and vaporous up-front documentation aren’t acceptable. Software must be visible and valuable from the start.

Open Call: Eclipse

My editor of choice lately has been Eclipse, even though I don’t know anything about Java. The PDT project for PHP development is wonderful for keeping track of variables and functions and classes that my site/application uses, and it has just enough panels that provide information about the projects that I am working on, as well as the attributes for just about every HTML/CSS element.

Coupled with Subclipse for Subversion source control, Eclipse is my one stop shop for all things web development.

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