There are various websites which perform various project management functions, but the latest offerings from the cloud (or software-as-a-service) which are most compelling are those which start with a solid distributed source control system and add additional features. Github using Git (wikipedia), Launchpad with Bazaar (wikipedia), and Assembla–my favorite and the most full-featured–which offers Subversion (wikipedia) and Mercurial (wikipedia) as well as Git and a plugin connection to Github. Clearly these are all challengers to the grandaddy of them all, Sourceforge.
Interestingly, none of these are listed in Wikipedia’s List of Project Manager Software, mainly I believe because they started as source code management in the cloud, and not as project management. The rising popularity of distributed source control systems has made such offerings more and more compelling.
What follows is a brief review/overview of Github, Launchpad and Assembla, neither sophisticated, nor exhaustive. I just think it may be important to start putting these more prominently on the map. I intend on using Assembla, and will report back on how that all worked out.
- The strongest features is the fact this is Git hosting, and a number of pricing options, with great functionality for free. As well, Github offers a set of JSON hooks and messages for roll-your-own integration with other tools and services such as Campfire and Lighthouse. Git, of course, is the Linus Torvalds project for managing the Linux kernel project. Ruby on Rails and quite a few other projects besides the kernel use Github.
- Launchpad uses the Bazaar DSCM, a Shuttleworth project to manage the Ubuntu distribution. Launchpad offers some interesting cross-project management features, and has quite a few prominent projects hosted there, such as MySQL, Zope and Firefox as well as Ubuntu. Additional features include Bugzilla and Trac plugins (as well as an integrated bug tracker), a new API, translation, team management, blueprints and milestones, build tools and package construction. Very nice interface.
- Assembla has all the same sorts of things that Github and Launchpad in terms of bug tracking (native and TRAC integration) source code management (SVN, Mercurial, Git or Github connector), as well as chat, scrum, and time tracking, an image annotation tool and an enhanced HR component (Launchpad has something similar). Crazy.
There are a few open source project management tools worth a look (beyond the cloud):
For the cloud computing environment, there is of course the venerable 37 Signals Basecamp
Oh, and lest I forget, FogBugz from Joel Spoolsky’s Fog Creek Software is pretty neat, though it doesn’t have a source control component. Great bug and project management tool for the cloud.
P.S., see this article for a brief discussion on the use of CVS/SVN compared with Bazaar/Mercurial (best to also read the comments).