Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

DesktopBSD day 21 – Planning and Project Management (II)

Yesterday I was enchanted with GanttProject and with that experience in mind I started playing with the three other project management applications.

Planner a.k.a. Project Management

desktopbsd-1-projectmanagement-day20.png

The Planner website isn’t a treasure chest of information.

Planner is the GNOME project management tool.

That’s about all you can find about the application. It’s a typical GNOME application with a pretty straightforward interface. The taks bar to the right gives quick access to the Gantt chart, the tasks, the resources and the resources in use. It’s use is quite similar to GanttProject. You can add tasks and resources and they will appear as a single line in the list. Under the right mouse button you can access the window to edit the rest of the information.

It was kind of weird to add various single day tasks and then to see three task bars of varying lengths

desktopbsd-3-projectmanagement-day20.png

Then I realized that the first day had been cut short because the day had already started and the third day took the whole weekend along with it. The weekend is defined as a no working days, which makes this kind of representation confusing.

KPlato

desktopbsd-1-kplato-day20.png

KPlato is the project management application for the KDE desktop. It’s relatively young. If memory serves me right, it was included in KOffice earlier this year. KPlato is short for K PLAnning Tool.

KPlato is a project management application. In this first public release we focus on planning and scheduling of projects.

As expected KPlato is somewhat richer in it’s interface than Planner. You can fine tune the settings for working hours per day, per week, per month and per year. This is very useful if you have a team of people that work parttime on varying days per week or freelancers that work a specified amount of hours.

desktopbsd-3-kplato-day20.png

desktopbsd-4-kplato-day20.png

When creating new tasks agan you find options not available (at least this visible) in the other programs. You can add scheduling to the task and add some risk settings.

desktopbsd-5-kplato-day20.png

It wasn’t a problem to enter all the information and create a new project with tasks and resources. Once that is done, you can change the view options, giving you various scenarios for the project.

desktopbsd-7-kplato-day20.png

TaskJuggler

TaskJuggler began it’s life as a commandline program and had the graphical interface added to it later. When I checked the website my interest rose. Just read the lingo yourself:

TaskJuggler is a modern and powerful project management tool. Its new approach to project planning and tracking is far superior to the commonly used Gantt chart editing tools. It has already been successfully used in many projects and scales easily to projects with hundreds of resources and thousands of tasks.

TaskJuggler is Open Source project management software for serious project managers. It covers the complete spectrum of project management tasks from the first idea to the completion of the project. It assists you during project scoping, resource assignment, cost and revenue planing, risk and communication management.

TaskJuggler provides an optimizing scheduler that computes your project time lines and resource assignments based on the project outline and the constrains that you have provided. The build-in resource balancer and consistency checker offload you from having to worry about irrelevant details and ring the alarm if the project gets out of hand. The flexible “as many details as necessary”-approach allows you to still plan your project as you go, making it also ideal for new management strategies such as Extreme Programming and Agile Project Management.

I had to install TaskJuggler via ports and while I waited I kept reading the information from the website. The sentence: “It usually takes no more than 2 to 3 hours to get productive with TaksJuggler” became an ominous sign. Two to three hours? It took minutes to get started with the other three programs.

Well, TaksJuggler isn’t like the other programs. It does have one of the nicer graphical interfaces.

desktopbsd-1-taskjuggler-day20.png

However, there are no icons, wizards or even windows to add new projects, tasks or resources. It’s all taken care of by a text file:

desktopbsd-2-taskjuggler-day20.png

To be honest, I stared at it for a couple of minutes and decided it wasn’t worth the time right now.

Conclusions

GanttProject, Planner and KPlato are very similar in how you work with them. KPlato is the youngest program, but already gives the most flexibility. I must admit that I have my own needs and will readily agree when experienced Microsoft Project users say they miss feature X or Y. GanttProject stood out as a fast and responsive Java application. Planner the program is okay, but it’s website was a complete turn-off. The maintainers should really have a look at the site of the other programs.

The good thing is that all of these programs run very well on the DesktopBSD platform, so it were two good days of work.

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