One of the things that I’m very interested on is project management. There is something intriguing about planning and getting projects done on time, on top of that I’ve looked into different techniques such as PMBOK and PRINCE2. Those techniques are great if implemented and executed properly. Like anything though, one of the important aspects is the tool of trade. In this case, project management tools.
There is of course the heavyweight in the market, Microsoft Project and it is indeed the most matured project management tool in the market. To get it working with multiple users however, will involve investments in SharePoint or use their cloud service Office 365 with subscription fees per user. Depending on your company budget, this might be the way to go; however if you are running on smaller operating budget then consider the Open Source alternatives.
In this 3 parts series we will be covering LibrePlan. I think this is one of the best full featured Open Source Project Management tool that you can get out there. Notice the word full featured, I specifically said that because if you want a lighter tool, there are others to consider and we’ll talk about them in the upcoming articles.
Please note that I am in no way affiliated with LibrePlan, this 3 part series on LibrePlan is totally from my personal experiences and research.
So first we’ll talk about what kind of features that I’m looking for.
Here is a list of features that made me prefer LibrePlan:
- Multiple users.
- Live editing on Gantt chart (despite other visual representative, this is still my favourite).
- Ability to calculate percentages overall.
For me this is extremely important, because when managing a project you will need almost real time update of where the project progress is at the given moment.
- Resource customisation, eg. holidays, carer’s leave, etc.
- Web based interface. A dynamic one in this case, not like the old submit and refresh interface.
- Resource usages overview. This is an indicator where you can see the load of each of the team members.
To understand the capabilities of this tool, we will use a case study about developing a website for a customer. Let’s assume that we are a web development company and we have 4 developers on our team, which for simplicity’s sake can do both user interface and back end development.
We are contracted to create an online store by company VZZ. The website name is going to be: The Online Teddy Bear Emporium. Obviously, the client sells teddy bears online.
All the development will be in-house within our company so we have complete control over resources and calendars. The online store will need the usual features such as product listing page, product details page, welcome page, checkout and shipping page. These pages will need to be designed for and there will be time required to integrate those designs.
Limitations for this Example
The purpose of this exercise is to show what Libre Plan can do, we are not here to learn project management techniques. Therefore the planning details in this article will be simplified, in a real project, there will be much more aspects to plan and think about.
The installation of LibrePlan is pretty straightforward for local installation. Of course if you are intended to use this on large scale production, then it’s best to consult a Tomcat expert in order to optimise your installation properly.
Today however we’ll try to install this on a linux box.
- Go to LibrePlan download page. http://www.libreplan.com/download/
- If you are using either Ubuntu, Fedora/CentOS or openSuse then you are in luck. LibrePlan has custom repositories for those system, so that you can install using apt-get, yum or zypper. Otherwise there is a manual installation instructions on their website.
- So follow the instructions from the site for installation
- When installation is done, you’ll need to check the tomcat port. When I installed it on my Ubuntu machine I had an issue with port conflict as the port 8080 has been used by Jetty server that I’m using for other work.
- So open up /etc/tomcat6/server.xml
- Find the connector configuration and modify the port accordingly if the LibrePlan installer didn’t modify it automatically.
1234<Connector port="8081" protocol="HTTP/1.1"connectionTimeout="20000"URIEncoding="UTF-8"redirectPort="8443" />
- Lastly restart the server.
1sudo /etc/init.d/tomcat6 restart
Simply go to http://localhost:8081/libreplan/ (or whatever port that you got specified in the above configuration) and you will be greeted by the welcome screen. The default login is admin and the password admin.
Next post, we will work with our case study and actually setup our project plan.libreplan, project management