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Using ProjectLibre Instead of Commercial Project Tracking Applications

By Edited Jan 6, 2016 0 0

ProjectLibre is the free, open source project tracking application that has evolved from OpenProj. The new tool has been downloaded over a million times since it was released in 2012. It is used by people located in 210 countries around the world.

Benefits of Open Source
ProjectLibre is free under the open source licensing model. This allows anyone to use the tool for any purpose. It may be used for personal projects or for commercial work for paying clients. There are no costs associated with the installation of the executable. There are no royalty fees due when it is used. Most commercial project tracking applications are not open source, but they do allow general use, in most cases. Depending on the retailer or developer, the commercial tools may have certain restrictions such as inability to use them in certain regions of the world.

Source Code Availability
The source code of the application is available for review. Those who have sufficient skills can modify this in order to add desired customizations. As well, anyone can suggest modifications to the base for later releases. Those with programming background can review the code, identify errors and submit repairs to the development community. This type of flexibility is not possible with commercial project management tracking applications which are highly protective of the internal components.

Compatibility With Commerical Project Tracking Systems
ProjectLibre can be used with files created in some commercial project tracking software such as Microsoft Project. The free tool can open files of type MPP, MPX and XML. It is also able to open Gnome files of type PLANNER. It can also save working files as XML for compatibility.

Notice that you are unable to save task tracking files in types MPP, MPX, or PLANNER. This may cause difficulties for some who are not using the newest versions of the commercial applications. Proper planning of the conversion process is therefore advised.

Compatibility with OpenProj
ProjectLibre is fully compatible with the older OpenProj application. It was built from the same code base. Since release, however, it has been upgraded numerous times with various improvements. The feature set of the new application is substantially improved. The underlying file format has not changed. This gives project managers an easy upgrade path, with no conversions required. Users of the older free tool should migrate to the new version, 1.5.9, as of June 2014.

ProjectLibre User Guide Reference Manual
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Jan 6, 2016)
Microsoft Project Professional 2010 [Old Version]
Amazon Price: $999.95 $475.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 6, 2016)

ProjectLibre is maintained on Sourceforge.net, a common repository for many open source software systems. This site provides the current set of executables as well as all of the older versions back to the initial release. As of June, 2014, the current version is 1.5.9. Statistics from the site show that this latest version has been downloaded at a rate of about 1,000 per day, 91,000 total since its release on April 24, 2014. The various installation scripts are contained at Sourceforge.net for each of the platforms that are supported. This includes Windows, Mac, and Linux.

This is the central Internet communications site for the tracking application. It is comprised of several sections. News from the developers is broadcast here. A number of user community groups has been established. While there are Global, European, North America, and more, groups, some are not particularly active. There are no membership criteria so people can review any group that they like. While the European group is largest with over 6,600 members, the North American is close at about 5,500. The site also maintains a user guide in several languages. Note that that the help key in the software will activate this help document but only for those who have registered with the site.

Program Stability
The free application is remarkably stable and is not prone to errors. It has been upgraded several times to address reported problems. An active development team continues to apply fixes to reported problems. A number of future enhancements are also planned for the tool. While a README.TXT file is released with each version, this does not contain a full change release log of improvements to the source code.

Reports from the field are good with few people reporting severe troubles. Many times the issues encountered are related to installation specifics such as the version of JAVA available on the working computer. Such compatibility issues are often not a fault of the ProjectLibre development team. Should particular problems arise, however, they should be reported to the user group for review.

Printing Issues
The free application is not as robust for report printing as some other commercial systems. While a number of reports are available, such as resource usage, Gantt Chart and Network Diagram, these are fairly rudementary in style. There are no options available to alter print colors, a practice that is used with commerical applications when certain tasks are to be highlighted. As well, there is no comprehensive report available which will display the entire project status. Instead, project managers must print each report separately.

The available reports may be displayed on screen, printed to an attached printer, or saved in PDF files. There is also a report preview option available. This tool allows the system user to make print adjustments to color, margins, and more, before directing output to the printer.

Future Developments
The development team is planning on a new architecture which will allow the system to handle network features. This should allow a portfolio office to establish a single repository of information, such as the available resources. Currently, each project maintains a separate calendar and resource allocation. This makes the determination of availability of team workers a very difficult task. To find out the current utilization of team member, each project calendar needs to be reviewed and saved in a working file. Other planned enhancements include more attention to reported faults. There have been discussions regarding the calendar settings so that basic units can be changed from hours to days, weeks, or months. Currently, all work time defaults to hour units. While a day can be specified in the task duration field, the program automatically converts this unit into hours.



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