Project management applications

This list is prompted by a client's request to recommend a simple project management application for a mixed platform office. …

Project management solutions can be divided into two broad categories: desktop applications designed primarily for use by a single manager, and web applications intended for collaborative use. Examples of the latter are the project management modules that many enterprise management packages have. Per my client's needs I only consider standalone desktop applications.

MY SEARCH CRITERIA
I begun my search by looking for an application that:

  • Is platform agnostic
  • Is open source
  • Has a large, helpful support community
  • Runs adequately on low-spec hardware such as netbooks
  • Easy to master, yet full featured enough that the user will not outgrow it quickly

Apropos the final point, project management with or without specialized software requires experience. It isn't reasonable to seek software that can magically enable an inexperienced person to successfully manage a project. Here I presume a user who can competently manage projects the old fashioned way, and wants to give specialized management software a try without a heavy investing in training.

THE LIST
Calligra Plan
Qt/KDE and part of the Calligra office suite. Linux only. Successor to the retired KPlato project.

GanttProject
Java; cross-platform. Easy to use. Can exchange data with Microsoft Project and spreadsheet applications. Reviews suggest a good balance between being newbie-friendly and having a broad feature set. Video tutorial available. My pick for best all around choice.

Planner
GTK/Gnome; Linux and Windows. As with many Gnome applications, the Windows version can be troublesome to install. Can exchange data with Microsoft Project. Beta. Considered the easiest to use, although some users find its feature set limited. One review here. Localized into several languages. Not active; as of this writing the last release was 2011.

ProjectLibre
Java; cross-platform. A very active modern fork of the dormant OpenProj. It is a drop in replacement for Microsoft Project, and serves that purpose very well. Users new to project management software will probably find it needlessly complicated. Localized into several languages.

TaskJuggler
From the project page: "TaskJuggler is project management software for serious project managers… It takes some effort to master its power". No GUI; it takes text input files. Primarily developed for Linux; other platforms do not appear to be a high priority. One review here.

REFERENCES
9 of the Best Free Linux Project Management Software

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About Warren Post

So far: Customer support guy, jungle guide, IT consultant, beach bum, entrepreneur, teacher, diplomat, over-enthusiastic cyclist. Tomorrow: who knows?
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