There is much to win from the people at Web2Project from more visibility online. I would not have found if my DotProject install had not ceased to work after the 2.1.5 upgrade. And because I was unable to make a fresh install of DotProject on a different server.
Frustrated by both events, and because I was tired of dealing with minor and major issues that have lingered for many years in DotProject, I started googling the words “alternative for”. I say this with all respect to the excellent work the DotProject team has done, because they have lead the way for open source project management software.
As it turned out, upgrading from DotProject 2.1.3 to Web2Project was easier than upgrading DotProject with it’s own software from 2.1.3 to 2.1.5. And the upgrade went smooth without any loss of data. All my projects, tasks, contacts and hours are there. And suddenly many of the small but annoying missing features in DotProject are no longer an issue. Web2Project is indeed an excellent upgrade path.
After using Web2Project for a week, I have the following viea on the major improvements, the minor niceties and the points that could still be improved. If you are on the brink of deciding whether to make the change yourself, or looking for open source project management software, this may help you to make up your mind.
- The project designer – Editing a full project to change the starting and end dates of all tasks used to be a major hassle in DotProject. There is a great solution for this in Web2Project: the Project Designer. It gives you the Gantt chart and project overview on one page, and a mass-update interface to change task characteristics. It makes rescheduling a project a breeze.
- Speed improvements – I can not honestly compair it, because I moved my install from shared hosting to a private virtual server (with higher specs). And the speed improvement is incredible. It should also be noticeable if you keep it on the same server, at least that is what is suggested in the documentation.
- All the good, much less of the bad – You have all the DotProject features available with the same interface / button placement, if you have grown used to DotProject in the past. The ticketing system was removed, but I never found this to be useful to start with anyway.
- Changes to the report module – Even though there is no invoice module yet, you can now report your tasks with the value in the last column and a sum a the end. For me this basically means that I can copy paste the values into an invoice without doing extra calculations in a spreadsheet like I had to do in DotProject.
- User time zone management – You can now have a separate time zone for separate users. Very useful when working with people overseas, or when you are traveling yourself.
- The server time and date is reported next to the welcome message – Minor though it is, I like this, because my project management screen is always close when working.
- “New task-log” button at the bottom of the page for easier access when reviewing a long list
Points that can be improved
- The “Mac style” that Web2Project offers as a default may have looked good in 2008, but it looks very much out of date at the moment. I found that contrary to my normal routine, the first thing I was hacking into was the CSS to change the blue background, and I’m working my way through the GUI image folder to change the rest to get to a more work-like environment. I felt like doing project management in a Christmas tree or on mall-game when web2project came out of the box.
- It should be easier to make customize the lay-out to your own company. Just naming the logo’s with names like “CompanyLogoSmall.png” would help a lot.
- There are some minor issues which are bothersome. For instance, the compound tasks in the Gantt Chart do not appear as header in bold (like I was used to seeing in DotProject). But I’m sure this will be resolved.
- The export module of DotProject does not work. I turned green when I noticed this, because I had blindly relied on it for all my backups over the past years. But the sql export that you get cannot be imported into a new database. You have to use either the command line or PHPMyAdmin to make a readable database dump.