geekdom without assumption

Project madness (~management)

If you’re anything like most developers I know, then time management, project management, and organization are not among your most natural strengths. Thank goodness Wikipedia has a list of project/ticketing systems to ease the pain; if only it wasn’t so long that it takes several weeks to read, let alone evaluate.

Caught in the balanace of wanting to get something good and wanting to just get something soon, I followed a recommendation on a forum to try out trac. Trac is an open source, “Integrated Project and SCM Management” system. After digging around in a couple of demos, and reading a few reviews, I decided to jump in and give it a shot. The features that sold me: 1)the entire thing functions like a wiki; there is an explict wiki built in, but then all milestones, tickets, and revisions (see next feature) can be written in wiki formatting and accessed via internal wiki links. 2) Subversion and git integration; you can review the timeline, and see change sets or entire source files right in the browser! 3) plug-in extensibility; I immediately added plugins for finer-grained access control, and account management. I also tried out a time estimation plugin, but decided that it has a ways to go before it is truely useful.

A couple months into it, I’d say it’s been well worth while. The interface has been well done, including the ability to pull ticket reports based on which side of the milestone progress bar you click (very cool), and it’s saved us a lot of headaches by concentrating and connecting our internal documentation with our tickets and our source code. A couple of things I would love to see in the future are out-of-the-box ldap support and the ability to nest tickets. I really can’t complain though, given that it beats out a lot of pricey solutions, and it took next to no time to connect our geographically distributed teams up. Quite a few well-known FOSS projects have adopted it, including Piwik, the WordPress Plugin Directory, and Browsershots (there is a decent list on the trac site).

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