Monday, December 7, 2009

A small update - some projects start rolling

More than 2 months since my last post, but I'll try not to make that the norm. Right now I've got some big posts waiting in the wings that I just can't seem to polish up and post, but once I get those out of the way I hope to be in a more regular posting habit. I'm trying to build up a decent body of posts before I start publishing this URL anywhere and actually get anyone reading.

In the meantime I'm pleased to say a couple of my projects have either gotten started, or taken an interesting turn recently. One of them I can't really say much about just yet, but it's going to be pretty cool for software publishers, and open source projects in particular. The other I haven't mentioned yet, but it's something I've wanted to do for a long time, a software benchmarking website currently found at

I started working on 3D Speed Machine with a partner nearly a year ago now, and it was his foundational work that got the site most of the way to where it is now. He started it before I was involved, and he had the gumption to actually do it, while I've had the idea for years now and hadn't even started. But, as often happens, he got busy with other projects, so he has passed it on to me to work on solo, and as it's been a passionate subject for me for years, I was only too happy to accept. I've got some big improvements in mind, and I'm looking forward to dedicating a good amount of time to this project in 2010, along with a bunch of others percolating in my mind.

I suppose now is as good a time as any to mention a tool I've started using to help me manage my projects (and, in some ways, my life). I think everyone who has any kind of "projects" they're working on probably needs a project management system of some type. If you're working on software and/or website projects, I'd say all the more so. A place to put down your ideas, to organize information, store files, maybe chat with collaborators, and perhaps even ultimately track features, issues, etc.

To handle all of this I've started using an awesome web-based tool called Redmine, a complete project management suite with a slick, fast, intuitive interface, a wide variety of useful tools (including wiki, issue tracking, forums, file repository, and more), plus a good range of plugins to add even more functionality. For software developers I highly recommend it as it has a nice issue tracking system built-in, and the wiki functionality can really be helpful to jot down ideas quickly. Forums can be used to discuss with collaborators, with resulting information transferred easily and quickly into the wiki, or the issue tracker. Multiple projects can be managed with sophisticated permissions and workflows. And did I mention how fast and intuitive it is?

I've tried a lot of other project management and issue tracking apps, from Trac, to GLPI, to Mantis, to ZenDesk, to Basecamp, and more. Redmine stands above all of them in the interface and usability department IMO. It also seems incredibly easy to modify and expand it. For example, just modifying the CSS of the default template allows you to add the ability to color-code your issue statuses.

So, if you're a software developer - or just have some complex projects to work on - and you haven't yet started using a project management system, I think Redmine is a great place to start. You'll probably find you don't need to look beyond it as it either has the tool you need, or probably has a plugin for it.

I didn't really start out this post expecting to do much more than a quick update, but I'm glad to be able to get a useful software recommendation out there. Hopefully I can wrap up my longer in-progress articles and get them out there soon. Wish me luck!

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