As mentioned earlier, I decided to look into an open source, web-based project management tool for my next project. [ Up to this time, I've only been exposed to MS Project -- its obvious selling points being able to model a work breakdown structure (WBS) and display pretty Gantt charts. The downsides: non-existent groupware and incompatible files between different versions of MS Project. ]
I spent close to 20 hrs installing, configuring, troubleshooting, and evaluating Double Choco Latte (DCL version 20020706) and The Ultimate Team Organisation Software (TUTOS version 1.0.20021113). In fact, there were times when I was close to surrendering to insanity and declaring, "MS Project ain't so bad after all!" And while I perservered, I didn't arrive at my intended destination.
In evaluating these packages, I favour the following quality attributes (YMMV):
- Installability. Faulty installation instructions and undocumented requirements made these installs extremely nontrivial. For example, DCL requires register_globals = On, while TUTOS doesn't care. Is it too much to expect shell scripts (which simplify database configuration) to be both provided and documented?
- Adaptability. Both offer some measure of configurability, each to a different extent and direction. DCL favors GUI-based configuration, while TUTOS seems split between a GUI and customizing the php scripts.
- Usability. DCL deserves praise for KISS -- despite fewer features and documentation (e.g., what's the purpose of "weights"?), I found it relatively intuitive to use. In contrast, navigation in TUTOS was bewildering. Examples: (1) links seem to teleport..appearing at the top on one form and at the bottom of another...using a different label; (2) to delete an entity, you often have to select "modify" and on the next form, select "delete". (i.e., modal behaviour)
- Functionality. Technically, both met the needs/requirements (i.e., track time and tasks), but DCL's hierarchical approach (task + sequence) was closer to a work breakdown structure than TUTOS. Alas, in both cases, I ran into bugs which I (of course) reported on their respective SourceForge bug tracker pages.
The conclusion? Seeing as I wasn't overwhelmed, and as Bram suggests, a simpler solution appears prudent. Well, I hope this mini-review helps someone. And if not, thanks for reading my rant.
p.s. My system configuration: 1.4 GHz Athlon, 1.0 GB RAM, Red Hat Linux 8.0 (Psyche), Apache 2.0.40, PHP 4.2.2, MySQL 3.23.52