Review of Web-based Project Management Software

Help! I gotta keep track of everything I gotta do! There is help available to track your projects, you just got to know where to look.

A lot of developers, designers, students, and even web-hobbyists have a lot of items on their to-do lists for any particular site or project. You have to remember to fix that one CSS glitch, or rewrite a page to use some new function… the lists can be long and daunting. If you’re like me, you’re likely to forget half the stuff you need to do, and if it weren’t for project management software, I might as well stay in bed.

To put it mildly, there are *a lot* of applications out there that help you track bugs and manage projects, and this article only looks as a handful of them. Although the general purpose of these web-applications are similar, there are substantial differences in the pricing models, features, and usability, and hopefully this article will help you identify an application that is right for you. Or, if you’ve never really thought about using one before, maybe this article can help show you why project management / bug tracking software is good to have around.

This post only covers project management. I’ve discussed invoicing softare in another post. Some of these packages include time-tracking and invoicing, but that’s just a “nice-to-have” for the purposes of this article.

DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with any of these companies. None of the links in the article text are affiliate links; I don’t get a kickback or commission on referrals, I’m merely sharing my opinions and experiences using the software in the hopes that it’ll help inform the decisions of others.

Here’s the list… some of these are hosted solutions (software-as-service), and some you have to download and install.

Zoho

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users: unlimited

Wiki?: yes

Notes: This suite of Apps seems like they were hoping to get purchased by Google Apps… kinda similar, but more labored somehow.

My Intervals

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users:4

Wiki?:yes

Notes: You can get 1 project for free… but the functionality is limited.

Bit Bucket

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users: 5

Wiki?: yes

Notes: yet another solution…

Unfuddle

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users: 2

Wiki?: Yes, called “Notebooks”

Notes: This is one of my favorites for hosted solutions. I recommend Unfuddle — it’s not a silver bullet, but Unfuddle is a great tool for maintaining sanity: clean, simple, and easy to use. If you pay a little bit, you can unlock the best features.

Code Spaces

Cheapest Option: $3.99/mo

# Users: 2

Wiki?: yes

Notes: I felt the manager here was heavy… sorta Windowsy in a bad way, as in the interface needs to lighten up, but did have a good set of features.

Feng Office (Formerly OpenGoo)

Cheapest Option: $59/mo

# Users: unlimited

Wiki?: yes

Notes: this is a popular solution for its thoroughness. — you have to install it on your servers, which is actually a good thing for people storing sensitive info.

Achievo

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users: unlimited

Wiki?:no

Notes: This one you have to download and install on a server that runs PHP and MySQL — it includes features for sales teams. It’s built using the ATK framework.

Project Pier

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users: unlimited

Wiki?: yes

Notes: you gotta download and install this PHP/MySQL app. This is like the PHP cousin of Redmine, so if you don’t have the ability or resources to work with Ruby on Rails, this is a nice option.

Collabtive

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users: unlimited

Wiki?: Yes

Notes: This is a clean app — another one you have to download and install yourself. It’s a nice option (try the demo). The only thing I didn’t care for was that the app relies heavily on icons, so it’s hard to get your bearings. Good German engineering!

Redmine

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users: Unlimited

Wiki?: Yes

Notes: This is my favorite. It’s not perfect, but it’s a clean interface and easy to navigate. The major downside is that you have to install this yourself. Can you install Ruby on Rails on your server? No? Then this might not be for you.

BaseCamp

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users:unlimited, but only 1 project.

Wiki?: Yes

Notes: although this is hugely popular hosted solution and it’s well integrated with many software projects, this does not have a good ticketing system, and it does not tie into code versioning (e.g. SVN), so I don’t fully comprehend its popularity. It’s pretty good, but it seems over-hyped.

FogBugz

Cheapest Option: $25/mo

# Users: unlimited

Wiki?: yes

Notes: This integrates with their Kiln product to tightly integrate bug tracking with code revisions. There’s another product Trello that does visual project organization, but to be honest, I’m kinda confused by these interrelated projects.

Pivotal Tracker

Cheapest Option: $7/mo (free for non-profits)

# Users: 3

Wiki?: sorta

Notes: This is a serious app from the boys in Boulder for agile development — they’ve really thought through the way that large projects should be managed. It’s a hosted solution, but they can install it in on-site if needed.

Lighthouse

Cheapest Option: Free (for open source), otherwise $15/mo

# Users: 10

Wiki?: yes

Notes: another clean app. This is a hosted solution.

Google Code

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users: unlimited

Wiki?: yes

Notes: This option is available ONLY for open-source projects. It’s clean, with an easy interface. Updating wiki pages and bugs seems to triggers errors not infrequently, but I recommend this for any open source project.

Trac

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users: unlimited

Wiki?: yes

Notes: A lot of projects use this (e.g. WordPress): You download and install it. It’s written in Python and can run on several common databases.

Mantis

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users: unlimited

Wiki?: yes

Notes: It’s functional, but the UI/UX is pretty crusty. Sorry to poo-poo the hard work of the devs here, but I never felt like I could get clients to use this app… it’s a bit disjointed.

Jira

Cheapest Option: $10/mo

# Users: 10

Wiki?: Yes

Notes: This is popular with big corporations. The biggest disadvantage of this is that it’s HEAVY: you gotta have a rock-solid sysadmin to setup Tomcat on your server to install this behemoth.

Bugzilla

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users: unlimited

Wiki?: no

Notes: this is a powerful Perl application used by Firefox that can be the public face of your app. You have to download and install this.

GitHub

Cheapest Option: Free

# Users: unlimited

Wiki?: Yes

Notes: this thing is on fire — GitHub is THE thing right now. It’s wiki is a pain in the ass compared to Google Code when it comes to formatting special characters. Paid plans get private repos.


Hopefully that’s a good list to help you narrow down your choices. If that’s not good enough for you, check out Wikipedia’s comparison of issue tracking systems

4 thoughts on “Review of Web-based Project Management Software

  1. A good list – if I could add another project management option, that’s web-based and free, then you can check out HappyTodos (http://www.happytodos.com).There’s a clear dashboard to give you a bird’s eye view of all your projects and statuses, and task prioritisation is done by simply dragging and dropping (with all deadlines being updated automatically).

  2. I’d recommend looking at Workgroups. I’ve used it in my current job for quite some time and have been very impressed at it’s workflow, digital ticking and proofing capabilities.

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