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GanttProject - Free Open Source Project Management Tool

Franco Martinig, Martinig & Associates, http://www.martinig.ch/

GanttProject is a free open source project management tool that allows managing project and scheduling tasks using the traditional project planning techniques of Gantt and PERT charts. It is a desktop software written in Java that works on Windows, Mac OS and Linux platforms. Created in 2003, this software has been continuously updated with a last release in January 2019. GanttProject is available in 25 languages.

Web Site: https://www.ganttproject.biz/, https://sourceforge.net/projects/ganttproject/
Version tested: 2.8.10 in May 2019 on Windows 8
System requirements: Windows, MacOS or Linux
License & Pricing: Free and open source software under GNU
Support: https://help.ganttproject.biz/

Installation

Simply download the setup file for your operating system and start the installation process. One minute later, you are done and ready to work!

Documentation

There is no user manual for GanttProject. There is some documentation on http://docs.ganttproject.biz/ and the website points to an introduction video from 2011 available on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rHCSa5ad34) that explains the basic features of GanttProject in 15 minutes. Searching on YouTube, you will find also many other video tutorials on GanttProject, some of them in other languages than English like Spanish, Portuguese, French or German.

Configuration

A configuration section (Edit > Settings) allows defining your preferences for the user interface (including your preferred language), the Gantt chart settings, the resource chart settings and other collaborations options.

Features

To perform project planning, GanttProject provides the following features:

  • Create tasks and milestones. Besides the start date and duration, every task may have priority, cost, color and fill pattern, text notes and user-defined custom fields.

  • Organize tasks in a work breakdown structure. You can create a hierarchical tree where progress, dates or costs of lower level tasks is summarized on the higher levels. Summary tasks can be collapsed to hide tasks which are less important.

  • Draw dependency constraints between tasks, like "start X when Y finishes". GanttProject will take care of enforcing these constraints on your Gantt chart. You can add a lag or use other types of constraints.

  • Create baselines to be able to compare current project state with previous plans.

  • Generate PERT chart in read-only view from the Gantt chart.

GanttProject provides also features to manage and monitor your project resources. You can import or export data in different formats (PDF, xls files, Microsoft Project). Even if GanttProject is a desktop tool, you can collaborate remotely using WebDAV servers or a Cloud storage solution.

Working with GanttProject

The first thing to do when you work with GanttProject is to create your project. You will do this in a three step process: project name and definition, project type/roles (normal/default or software development) and definition of the working week and public holidays, where the tool provides some predefined values for many countries. You can modify these values and add additional roles according to your company rules, a DevOps engineer for instance, for your project in the Project Properties dialogues.

The next step is to add the resources and tasks for your project. GanttProject provides two different views to do this with changing contextual shortcuts. I started by creating the team members in the resource tab. There you can also assign them a role and create their future days off. The tool offers a "copy & paste" option to duplicate quickly similar roles and tasks.

GanttProject - A Free Open Source Project Management Tool

(click on figure to enlarge)

Then you can start planning your project and create the tasks. The task creation dialog is richer than the resource window as you need to schedule the task and allocate resources with a percentage. You have also different options to manage the date information (start date / end date / duration), being able to define them yourself or letting the tool do some computation. If you add a description to the task, you will be able to quickly view it by putting your mouse on the small yellow document icon visible on the right side of the Gantt tab. In the task dialog box, you can also define the priority and the completion percentage of the task.

GanttProject - A Free Open Source Project Management Tool

(click on figure to enlarge)

Naturally, all resource allocation in the task dialogue automatically update the resource allocation chart. When you add tasks, the tool will automatically create a start date that follows the end of the previous task. You need to play a little with the tool to see how the scheduling actually works and what are the consequences of different choice in the scheduling with dependencies type and information. Automatic scheduling is a complex task and you might be interested in reading the specific documentation about it (http://docs.ganttproject.biz/user/scheduler/) if you have a large project with complex dependencies to manage.

The overall navigation between the tabs and dialog boxes is fairly intuitive and didn't create any particular issues during this evaluation. Resizing options are available for certain fields, when you need to type long titles for instance. You can navigate through the schedule of your project by dragging the timeline with your mouse. You can also move easily to a specific date like today or end of the project for instance.

In the Gantt chart tab view, you can manage the tasks definition and activity hierarchy in a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) fashion on the left side and visualize the task timeline on the right side. The Settings dialog box allows you to control which task information (start/end date for instance) you want to see in the Gantt chart. You can show / hide the critical path with a single click. The timeline also integrates the national holidays' schedule and the week-ends.

In a similar mode, the resource chart tab allows managing the resources on the left side and visualize the resource allocation on the right side. A simple color code put in evidence resource that are over-allocated or their holidays.

Finally, the PERT tab shows a read-only version of the project.

Then you can start planning your project and create the tasks. The task creation dialog is richer than the resource window as you need to schedule the task and allocate resources with a percentage. You have also different options to manage the date information (start date / end date / duration), being able to define them yourself or letting the tool do some computation. If you add a description to the task, you will be able to quickly view it by putting your mouse on the small yellow document icon visible on the right side of the Gantt tab. In the task dialog box, you can also define the priority and the completion percentage of the task.

GanttProject - A Free Open Source Project Management Tool

(click on figure to enlarge)

Exporting Data

GanttProject can export its information in five different formats:

  • PDF

  • HTML

  • CSV

  • Image in the PNG format

  • Microsoft Project data format

The PDF and HTML formats create a report that include information about the tasks and resources. They also contain the figures of the Gantt and resources charts that you can view on the screen. The CSV format provides the full information on tasks and resources in a format that could be imported in a spreadsheet. The PNG format provides a screenshot of the current screen. This is the only way to export the read-only PERT chart.

Conclusion

GanttProject is a good free desktop project management tool that offers nice project planning and scheduling features if you use the Gantt and PERT approach. It might lack some features if you need to manage a large number of projects and to share resources between them. However, if you have a limited number of projects to manage where resources are mostly allocated to only one project, then you might have a look at this robust free project management solution to meet your needs.


This article was originally published in June 2019

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