ProjectLibre: A Great New Application

ProjectLibre Project OpeningCredit: Javrsmith

ProjectLibre is the new open source project management tool that is an upgrade to OpenProj. ProjectLibre is free for all purposes. It has evolved from OpenProj in order to address needed upgrades that were effectively halted in the older code. Now anyone can use ProjectLibre to build their own project plans, monitor project tasks and produce regular status report of scope progress. This application builds on the strengths of the earlier open source foundations and provides much needed updates and bug fixes. As a free project management application, it provides very high value to agencies compared to the expensive commercial products such as Microsoft Project.

OpenProj - The Foundation of ProjectLibre
OpenProj was a great project management application that was released in 2004 by Serena, a software development company. The company provided OpenProj for general, free use, expecting many of the users to upgrade to Serena's commercial offerings. Whether this approach was successful is not known. In time, the company devoted less and less of its attention to OpenProj. The application was very effective as a project tracker and it had attracted many users due to its familiar layout. The application was designed to closely mimic Microsoft Project which had become a standard for project management tracking. It provided Gantt charts, Work Breakdown Structures and critical path analysis as well as many other reports. It handled various project file formats, both reading and writing. For a free, open source application, OpenProj was very stable. In time, users noted that the application was not being updated to address any outstanding issues. A decision was made to spawn ProjectLibre based on the established source code, starting a brand new product.

ProjectLibre Blank ProjectCredit: JavrsmithProjectLibre - The Future of Open Source Project Management Applications
In 2012, a group was organized to take over the lead in the open source project management application area. This group took the source code for OpenProj, for support had terminated, and began a new tool called ProjectLibre. Translated as "Free Project", this tool builds on the success of the earlier open source effort. It maintains compatibility with Microsoft Project and other project tracking tools. Anyone familiar with a commercial product will easily adapt to ProjectLibre. The fact that it is now supported by an active community bodes well for the future of free, open source project tracking.

Building A Project Plan With ProjectLibre
This project tracking application is quite complex. The best way to start to learn how to use it is to actually start using it for a simple project. This will allow the basics to be tried in a realistic fashion. To do so, there are some assumptions that must be made:

Example ProjectLibre Assumptions
- ProjectLibre must be installed and working on your computer. Check out the installation process if needed.
- The project will monitor the development of a plan for an upcoming product release
- There will be three full time staff members, (resources), for the project
- Budget is not a consideration of this example
- Schedule is a consideration of this example
- There is no set date for the implementation

Step 1: Create a Project Plan Shell Using ProjectLibre
Start up ProjectLibre. The initial window presents a popup that asks whether you wish to create or open a project. Click on "Create Project". Provide a project name and manager. The project starts today. The default is to forward schedule the project. Since this project has a fixed date six months into the future, our example will not be forward scheduled. Instead, that box is cleared and a finish date is given. There is a notes box on the initial screen as well. You may enter notes in the box provided if you wish. At this point, a blank project tracking screen is shown.

Step 2: Identify the Staff Members, (Resources)
Use the "Resource" menu option to switch to the resources view. At the upper left of the screen, click on the "Resources" icon. The spreadsheet view will switch to one that shows "Name", "RBS", "Type", etc, across the top. Click in the box under the name heading. Enter two more staff names. Click on the Task menu option and the "Gantt" icon in the upper left.

ProjectLibre User Guide Reference Manual
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(price as of Oct 8, 2013)
This is the definitive user guide to ProjectLibre. Covering all of the available features, it acts as an educational guide and an in depth reference manual. Topics include installation of the application, resource definition, task tracking, project monitoring and much more.
ProjectLibre Project PlanCredit: Javrsmith

Step 3: Identify the Project Plan High Level Tasks
In the beginning, it is important to record the high level tasks that must be completed by the project. For a product release, these are "Build Product", "Test Product" and "Launch the Product Sales Effort". Each of these tasks is a large grouping of related sub-tasks. The "Build Product" task will have sections such as "Design Database", "Design Program", etc. If the product is a physical device, such as a toaster, then suppliers will have to be found, standards will have to be followed, and so on. In the beginning, however, the highest grouping of tasks must be identified. In time, each will be expanded in a technique known as "progressive elaboration". The ProjectLibre tool fully supports this concept of project plan building.

Step 4: Subdivide the High Level Tasks
Once the high level tasks have been entered into the ProjectLibre project plan, they can be elaborated. To do this, select a task on the Gantt chart just below high level task. Right click the mouse to bring up the task menu. Choose "insert". Update the new line with a descriptive name. Select the entire task line. Right click again and choose "Indent" from the menu. This new task will become a sub-task of the high level one. Repeat with new sub-tasks as necessary. With the indent command, any task can become higher than its components. This is an excellent way to establish a hierarchy in the project plan.

Step 5: Assign Time To Tasks
With the tasks and sub-tasks defined, simply update the duration of each to indicate your early estimate of the time needed per task. The ProjectLibre tool will update the project chart, giving you an initial project plan. Since you told the program when your efforts started, your completion date will be calculated. Notice that a red bar is shown on the calendar portion of the screen. This represents the critical path which is the longest amount of time necessary to finish all tasks. If you are able to shorten tasks on this critical path, you can finish the project earlier.

ProjectLibre - The Open Source Project Management Application (ProjectLibre User Reference)
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Oct 8, 2013)
ProjectLibre is a free tool that can be used to develop project plans for any purpose. This book provides an introduction to the task tracking application.
A Simple Project Plan For ProjectLibre (ProjectLibre User Reference)
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Oct 8, 2013)
This book provides a simple description of ProjectLibre with illustrated examples that show the tool in action. It represents the minimum you need to know in order to get started with ProjectLibre building real project plans.