Desktop Applications for GNU/Linux – Part 4: Project Management

screenshot of a project managment toolThere are a fair few project management tools available for Linux that differ in simplicity of use as well as the features they include. Most of them would be suitable for smaller projects, but there are a couple that would be as suitable for complex large scale projects as the commercial solutions such as Microsoft Project.

Gnome Planner

is a Gantt Chart based project management tool similar to Microsoft Project. It has a very simple to use interface which is divided into four views:

  • Gantt Chart
  • Tasks
  • Resources
  • Resource Usage

The Gantt Chart view, as the name suggests, gives you a linear view of the tasks, while the Tasks view lists them in a table. The Resources view lists the resources such as people, rooms and equipments that can be assigned to a task. The Resource Usage view shows the tasks a resources is involved, highlighting any double bookings.

It allows you to manage the resources/people used in the project including checking how each person’s time is divided between tasks. When assigning it will take their holiday calendar into account when projecting the Gantt chart. You can set the rate for each resource you add, which Planner will use to cost each task.

Planner can store the projects in a central database for group access and it can import Microsoft Project XML files. It also allows you to publish the status of your projects by exporting an HTML version of the chart. As part of Gnome, planner may already be installed on your system.

Projity OpenProj

OpenProj from Projity is another desktop project management tool similar to Microsoft Project. This one is more comprehensive than Gnome Planner, as in it supports PERT along with Resource Breakdown Structure (RBS) and Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) charts as well as Earned Value Costing.

The interface provides a number of views of the project including a Standard Gantt Chart, a Tracking Gantt Chart showing the actual progress of the project, a PERT network chart, RBS and WBS, a number of resources and resource usage views. The resource views include histograms and graphs that show resource allocation and availability.

OpenProj can open Microsoft Project and Project 2003 XML files as well as Gnome Planner files. It can also save files in Project 2003 XML format.

It is included in the boxed package of StarOffice. It is a Java application which is already installed on most Linux distributions. Shaun Connolly, a former project management software developer at Primavera, seems to think OpenProj is a great choice. So, that should be encouraging if you are leaning towards this package.

The downside with OpenProj is that it seems to lack group features, as in you cannot store the projects in a central database. Projity have a separate Software-as-a-Service product for that.

GanttProject

GanttProject is a simple application with three main views:

  • Gantt Chart
  • Resource Load chart
  • PERT Chart

Like the other applications the Gantt chart provides a breakdown of the tasks, the the resource load chart shows the resource utilisation amongst the different tasks. It supports task dependencies for controlling the task flow, and roles for the human resources which can be used when assigning them to tasks.

It also supports critical path (CPM) which can use the individual task duration and task dependencies to deduce the shortest possible completion time for the project.

Again like the other applications, GanttProject can import and export Microsoft Project files. It can generate reports in a number of formats including PDF, JPEG, PNG and ready to publish HTML. It can import/export the entire project in CSV format.

GanttProject lets you work on projects stored on a central server accessing them over WebDAV. This allows group access to a single set of projects.

TaskJuggler

Task Juggler is an interesting program (especially if you are a programmer). It is a very powerful project management tool. According to its web site “If you are about to build a skyscraper or just want to put together your colleague’s shift plan for the next month, TaskJuggler is the right tool for you.” So they are aiming high with this thing!

It provides a whole host of task and resource management, cost and risk analysis, chart and report generation features, as well as CSV data export, and iCal export features. This does come at an expense of not being the typical point and click application. You describe the projects using a declarative programming language. This is then used to generate the reports etc.

So, Task Juggler is not for every project and definitely not for every project manager.

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Author: Musaul Karim

Software Engineer, Hobbyist Photographer, and a bit of a gadget geek.

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