activeCollab project management

  • July 10th, 2006

UPDATE 11/18: activeCollab is no longer offered as a free project management collaboration download.

Manage this, organize that. I believe I’ve just found the free answer to my question: “How am I going to keep myself from being pulled in all directions?” Having a fair amount of experience with both Basecamp and Tasks Pro for organizing items of importance and projects, I am truly impressed by the activeCollab package.

activeCollab Dashboard interface

Eli tipped me off to a great project management and collaboration tool known as activeCollab. Built as an open source alternative to the much respected Basecamp service, activeCollab offers project managers a complete platform from which to manage projects and respective clients through a centralized interface. Follow along as I break down some of the features of activeCollab and decide whether an open source option is suitable for your own work flow.

Download & Installation

Installation is a breeze assuming you know your way around your hosting administrative panel. After downloading the activeCollab package, unzip and take a few minutes to read through the included readme which outlines the gist of the procedure: upload, follow the installer script instructions, enter your database information, and complete. Total installation time: 5 minutes.

Project Management & Organization

activeCollab project users

activeCollab is very much as feature rich as Basecamp. Here’s the quick run through of what features administrators have concerning project management.

  • Unlimited project creation and management.
  • Overview: Parent view of current tasks, upcoming milestones, and messages.
  • Messages: Post and interact via messages between clients and sub users [includes email notifications].
  • Tasks: Create a task list and mark items as completed. Assign tasks to specific group members if working on a multi user project.
  • Milestones: Very similar to Basecamp milestones allowing project members to create long term project goals.
  • Documents: Upload, tag, and share documents with an option to keep private for certain members.
  • Tags: View a tagcloud of active tasks, milestones, and documents. Very helpful view for locating related tasks and documents.
  • Forms: Unique feature allowing project admins to create forms for members to fill. Create forms as a means to track progress or concerns e.g. is the project on track, etc.
  • People: View active members assigned to a particular project.
  • Create client profiles with sub user accounts. Each user account can be assigned unique permissions controlling the amount of operability each individual has editing projects.

Do have a better understanding of what activeCollab can and can’t do when placed side-by-side with Basecamp, check out Eli’s comparison of the two project managers.

Open source, open options

I can not stress the beauty of the fact that activeCollab is open source. Along with the publicly available code comes an unlimited number of options creating a custom project manager for personal use. Keep an eye on the active development and take a peak inside the activeCollab forums. Download your own copy [assuming your server meets the PHP5 requirement] and tweak your own install of activeCollab.