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Project Management on a Stick

A few months ago I questioned the need for running the activeCollab software offline, either on a PC, or on a USB key. I’m still not sold on the whole concept, but I was able to get it all running on my USB using Portable Firefox, Uniform Server and of course, activeCollab. For those of you who are entirely new to the whole activeCollab software, think OpenSource Basecamp. Imagine software that forms an online meeting place, file storage, message center, task tracking tool that can be accessed from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. It is separate from email, but can send you an email of any updates on the site, you can also access notification of any updates on your favorite feed reader.

Project collaboration, management, and task software: Basecamp

Basecamp takes a fresh, novel approach to project collaboration. Projects don’t fail from a lack of charts, graphs, stats, or reports, they fail from a lack of clear communication. Basecamp solves this problem by providing tools tailored to improve the communication between people working together on a project.


This is the world of Basecamp and ActiveCollab, a world of collaborative project management, separate from your personal productivity solutions, with the express purpose of keeping a project’s information and progress in one unified location, smoothing the tracking and management of all the parts of the project that are common to the client and your company. More after the jump…

activeCollab website – Features

activeCollab uses set of simple tools to provide environment for collaboration. Using this simple tools you can discuss with other team members, plan the execution of the project, assign tasks, attach files, send notifications. Most of the objects in the system are taggable so you can use tags and search to easily find specific information.

I still think the best way to use the software is as a group project management tool, hence the Collab in the title, “Collaborate”, but some people have taken to using it as a personal project tool, working offline by setting up a server, databases and running the software through a localhost arrangement. There are some tutorials for getting the various bits of software running here and here, depending on the server software you choose to use.

ActiveCollab is  now at version 0.7.1 and works a charm, there are still parts that could be smoothed out and improved, but the core of the program is a success, and makes me wonder why companies are spending up to $100 a month on Basecamp which is very similar.

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Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.