Egyptian blogger from Cairo.
Revolutionary Socialist.
Partner & Creative Director at ThePlanet.

Issue Tracking and Team Collaboration with WebIssues

When working on any web projects, organization is key. Perhaps when you are working on your own, using a handful of tools to be sure that you are on top of things is not a priority – it could in fact become a waste of time. However, once you start collaborating (the key word) with others on projects, it is crucial that you establish a system of communication. Between the projects, tasks, milestones and tickets, you’re sure to be left MIA if email and chat programs are your paths to international communication.

A very popular web-based project management tool is Base Camp by 37 Signals. Although its price tag is not at the attractive end at the spectrum, when you are ready to work with a group and are bidding for bigger projects (with a goal of making more profit), Base Camp’s monthly charge is a small price to pay for a significant increase in efficiency and productivity. The long list of alternatives (both open-source and commercial) could be discussed at another point, the one aspect that I wanted to pay close attention to is tracking issues and bugs.

Without a doubt, one of the best and most popular bug tracking tools is Bugzilla. The free and open-source application can be installed on any server and provides a web interface to be accessed from any browser. However, aside from an interface that could confuse a designer or two, Bugzilla’s main problem is that it requires ‘root’ access on the server it is installed on, which virtually eliminates the vast majority of web hosting providers. If you are not willing to invest in a dedicated server (see my posts on the different types of hosting), or at least a Virtual Private one, nor setup your own server at the home or office, then you’re in a need of an alternative – ideally one that runs entirely using PHP and MySQL.

WebIssues client on Linux

WebIssues client on Linux

Look no further, for the ever-progressing planet of the beautiful open-source brings you WebIssues; an open-source, self-hosted issue tracking and team collaboration tool by Michał Męciński. Just visit the website, download the zipped file to be unarchived and uploaded to your server (preferably under a sub-domain such as bugs.mywebsite.com). You’ll need to do edit the configuration file and type in the address and login of the database that you’ve created for the application to use. After that, download and install your WebIssues client (available for Linux, Mac OS and Windows) and start reporting bugs.

As oppose to a strictly web interface, WebIssues provides a powerful access via the desktop client. Think of it as replacing your webmail with a desktop email client; performance is much better, the options are much easier to access and far more advanced, and searching/filtering is a walk in the park.

Some of the main features, besides the aforementioned desktop client access, include:

  • Easy searching, filtering and sorting of all issues
  • Fully customizable issue types, which allows you to tailer the interface for your particular projects
  • Different permission levels and security
WebIssues desktop client on Mac OS

WebIssues desktop client on Mac OS

Perhaps more importantly, WebIssues strength lies in it’s strong database structure, and its easy-to-use API which allows you to add to it as you see fit. With time, not only will the application itself improve, but developers contributing will introduce even more features and enhancements that we could all benefit from. After the inclusion of an extensive system for reports, as well as a basic web interface, it’s hard to see WebIssues being outdone by any competition.

A core part of a team’s collaboration on web projects consists of tracking all of the bugs that arise, otherwise finishing off projects will become an impossibility. The free, open-source WebIssues allows you to do precisely that, regardless of the OS you use, while hosting it on your own server.

NOTE: WebIssues was first spotted by Omar Mohamed (website under construction), a web developer from Helwan, Egypt.

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6 comments

Roberto

January 10, 2010

In order to work in a colaborative project, I usually use EgroupWare. I feel very comfortable working on Egroup because is an online tool and you don’t need to install any client in your local computer. On the contrary you have to install it in your server.

In general terms, EgroupWare has the same funcionality that other similar software like baseCamp (calendar, task, mail server, document repository, the posibility to exchange tasks between the team member etc…)

I think that egroupWare is a powerful tool to manage colaborative project and the most important aspect “with a zero cost”

LongLife to OpenSource :P

Tarek Shalaby

January 10, 2010

Thanks for sharing, Roberto! I’ve taken a look at EGroupWare and it seems REALLY cool! The beautiful globe of open-source has outdone itself once again.

Judging it after only a quick, I think the interface could be improved (are there themes available for the administration control panel?). Also, EGroupWare is a team collaboration tool, but there’s still room for integrating WebIssues since the former does not offer bug and tickets, while the later will allow you to follow all of the issues without interfering with your team collaboration platform of choice. So both open-source tools can go hand-in-hand :)

Would you say this is a possible replacement for Base Camp? It’d be great if we can get all of the functionality, interface, and not pay anything for it!

Roberto

January 10, 2010

When I started to find a project management tool Base Bamp was a good option but I was looking for a free tool, for this reason I started to work with EgroupWare. By default egroupware has two differents themes but, you can change or adapt it because the themes are similar to wordpress theme.

I have compared the funcionality of Base Bamp and egroupware and they are basically the same application :P . In fact, in egroupware you has a Todo-list, a document repository, forum, project managment tools like gantt chart, milestones, etc…, forums, wiki, news, mail server.

In spite of all those funcionality in order to work in a colaborative project I actually only have used the project managment tools, the colaborative ToDo-list and in some cases the wiki.

On the other hand, Egroup has also the posibility to be integrate in your local computer. Unless I’m mistaken, there is an application for connect your egroupware with your Linux.

Woww, after this speech it seens like I’m the sales manager of EgroupWare :S jajajaja

Ken Miller

January 11, 2010

Interesting discussion. We were on Bugzilla but switched to CounterSoft’s Gemini product. The UI just flys and really helps now that we force our clients to *participate*.

Tarek Shalaby

January 11, 2010

Roberto, you definitely need to get in touch with the EGroup people, I’m sure they’ll find a way for you to help! It’s true what you are saying. Designers like myself pay close attention to appearance, so perhaps a quick template for the interface will make it significantly better.

Ken, thanks for sharing. I gave Gemini a quick look, and couldn’t help noticing the .aspx in my address bar. Needless to say, it is quite an insult to my browser and computer – but we can let that slide for now. Another issue is its price; 700 sterling makes Base Camp seem like an affordable option. But I can see why you would prefer that over BugZilla – more options, and a lot easier for the clients to use.

Colin

May 25, 2011

We also use Gemini (http://www.geminiplatform.com) and it is quite an easy to use tool so definitely I think you should try it too (even if you dislike .NET :)). There is a free version for a 3 person license?

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