activeCollab project management

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.

Discuss - 26 Comments

  1. Dennis says:

    I downloaded this a few days ago and have yet to set it up. Looks good….I love organization tools.

  2. Derek says:

    Oh it’s definitely a great alternative to Basecamp. Familiarizing myself with the interface took a few minutes but once you understand the structure, you’ll feel right at home.

  3. Poldo says:

    Thank you for this. I, myself am a Project Manager and currently, I’ve been relying on outlook to track our current projects.

  4. Eli Foner says:

    Poldo: Outlook 2007 with the Business Contact Manager addon can do a fairly good job of keeping things organized, but it’s hard to set it up to collaborate with clients. Project 2007 is much more complex to integrate efficiently. Which leaves us with Basecamp and now activeCollab. Great writeup Derek.

  5. Regi says:

    As Always Derek a great find, this will go a long way in my new venture. Now if only you could find the software that has the “Make awesome functional & Beautiful websites” button.

  6. Derek says:

    [quote comment=”4821″]Now if only you could find the software that has the “Make awesome functional & Beautiful websites” button.[/quote]

    *ahem* I know where to find that “software”. You can invest some time and cookir jar change in freelancers with a little time on their hands 😉

    Eli, your write up should act as a great resouce for anyoen considering the switch. I’m currently looking through the source files to better match the appearance of the activeCollab interface to match 5ThirtyOne.

  7. Eli says:

    I’d be eager to see a color-coded version in action.

  8. I cant install it as my server is still running on php 4.x. This one needs php5. sad.

  9. Poldo says:

    [quote comment=”4820″]Poldo: Outlook 2007 with the Business Contact Manager addon can do a fairly good job of keeping things organized, but it’s hard to set it up to collaborate with clients. Project 2007 is much more complex to integrate efficiently. Which leaves us with Basecamp and now activeCollab. Great writeup Derek.[/quote]
    Yep. I’m aware of that but the thing with Microsoft is, it’s never free. 2007 is still in BETA but I wouldn’t waste my time getting used to it. For sure, it’ll cost a fortune once it is released.

  10. Doesn’t look quite as good as Basecamp, but I think it is promising. A great free alternative.

  11. Matt Chou says:

    Thanks for the great suggestion, I downloaded it and tested it out.

    I still like 37 Signa’s product more, excited to see the development of activeCollab though.

  12. […] Software development teams in search of a web based collaborative solution should check the rest of the offered features over on Devshop.com. This is not a Basecamp, Tick, or activeCollab. Devshop is a fully featured collaborative software development solution. […]

  13. […] Well, not too long back a couple of geeks took a look at the simplistic system that is BaseCamp, and decided to copy it. The result is ActiveCollab, a BaseCamp clone released under Open Source license. For an overview see 5thirtyone.com’s good overview here. […]

  14. […] Project.fwbase.com Installation guide AC 5thirtyone.com Move over […]

  15. […] From the design, development, and product strategy company Webreakstuff comes a new contender in online project management and collaboration known as Goplan. In its newly released form, how does it stack-up against Basecamp & ActiveCollab? […]

  16. Geoff says:

    aC is now going closed source with a hybrid free-basic-version/paid-advanced-version model. Lots of uncertainty with aC these days. Can’t say it’s right or wrong, but something you should consider before committing all your time and data to the project.

  17. […] Project.fwbase.com Installation guide AC 5thirtyone.com Move over […]

  18. […] Project.fwbase.com Installation guide AC 5thirtyone.com Move over […]

  19. […] to finish it up today. However, today I found out that Derek from 5thirtyone.com did a review on it last year and recently compared activeCollab to Basecamp and GoPlan. Both articles are great and give plenty […]

  20. zabava says:

    Too bad it doesn’t support PHP 4.0 🙁

    More AJAX wouldn’t hurt either