Hot! Project Management with RailsCollab

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RailsCollab is a web based collaborative project management application, based principally around Basecamp from 37signals and was born out of the remnants of the original open source application activeCollab. When activeCollab decided to move from the free open source market to the lucrative commercial market, RailsCollab came about.

RailsCollab offers the following functionality:

  • Access control – project members have password controlled access. Clients can also have their own login accounts and access can be restricted so they only see the parts of the project you want them to see.
  • Task management – ability to create and monitor the progress of tasks. Tasks can be assigned to team members so everyone knows who’s expected to do what and by when.
  • Timescales – ability to analyse the time spent on individual tasks or a project as a whole.
  • Milestone management – ability to set and monitor key project milestones.
  • File management – facility to upload and store files to a project area where they can be shared with project team members.
  • Messages – email alerts keep everyone in the project up to date with progress on project tasks.  Messages can be allocated categories which helps team members focus on those that are of particular interest to them.  What is not available are email updates on milestones or on comments posted on tasks, and this is a real omission.
  • Wiki style collaboration – allowing team members to collaborate and share information.

RailsCollab boasts a functional calendar page, summary dashboard page and milestones page.

As a product, though, RailsCollab has been considered relatively immature and lacks the large-scale development support behind it – essentially, it is one dedicated developer, James Urquhart, that is taking this forward, implementing fixes based on user feedback and coming up with new and improved functionality. In comparison to other project management software applications both on the commercial market and those that are freely available, RailsCollab is generally little known and used.

Unlike the web based, hosted project management solutions, RailsCollab needs to be installed and configured on your local servers which means you will need a level of technical IT expertise to install and set up the software and there is no directly available support.

Open source software tends to be of particular interest to those who are technically keen to develop their skills in new areas – in the case of RailsCollab this would be the Ruby on Rails framework (also known as Rails), which is a framework for web development that supports the programming language, Ruby. As a framework, it is meant to help deliver rapid software solutions that will work across different IT platforms using Agile methods for development.

As an organization, you need to consider what your drivers are in selecting your project management application.  If you are a small organization looking for a simple solution, from a business perspective, there are easier solutions that allow you to be up and running with your projects in minutes, with access control, facility for global communications.

Author

Greg Katkin

In the 30′s a pack of wolves found him – Greg Katkin – an abandoned baby boy. At first he had blue eyes, but they changed all that. Those wolves raised him good, raised him right. Learn-ed him. Showed him how to write those wolves did. Greg, an expert in small business development writes for Zincubate as well as manages another local small business.

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