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Re: [fossil-users] [OT] Who's interested in project management & collaboration tools? And...

Folks, I hope you don't mind some interactive responses - this really is helping clarify a lot of my thinking....

Michael, thanks!

Michal Suchanek wrote:

On 5 August 2012 03:28, Miles Fidelman <mfidelman@meetinghouse.net> wrote:
.... where are they and how do I get their attention?

Hi Folks,

Open source software development involves a lot of distributed collaboration
- and I expect that many folks here, like me, are involved in one or more
projects, and dealing with all kinds of project management administrivia.
So.. I wonder if I might solicit opinions....
This is somewhat interesting question.

I think that you are targetting way narrower niche than you might expect.

That's kind of what I'm wondering. On the one hand, everybody I know does something that looks like project management - who doesn't have a to-do list, or a checklist or two sitting around; and an awful lot of us work in groups that have action item lists. But do people think of that as project management?

I am not saying that project management cannot be improved.

But you must ask this question: who is the person buried in a pile of
yellow stickies that will use your software?

Ahh.. that really is the question. I'm hoping to find people at that moment when they're tearing out their hair, lamenting "one of these days I've (we've) got to get organized?" Which, to a degree, is everybody I've ever known. :-)

>From the large corporate side project managers would possibly
appreciate your software but most likely they are bound to use a
solution that is standardized throughout company. The overall attitude
is geared toward using proven and well established things.

What I've observed is that people end up either forced into Sharepoint, and hating it, or using very simple tools that they already have - yellow stickies, emails, email lists, checklists - often kept in a text document or spreadsheet. I've also discovered that, if you walk into an Air Force operations center, chances are that every screen is covered with chat sessions - simple, agile, and great for linking groups together.

The issue comes down to: how to share information - and the result is either proliferating email threads, sharing a Google Doc/Spreadsheet, or using something like basecamp that centralizes everything.

I'm kind of shooting for something like Fossil, for project management - simple, easy to use, distributed - with a goal of running in a browser, and linking information with a P2P protocol.

Make things as simple as: create an action item list in an HTML email, distribute by email, save copy to desktop, open in browser, update your copy and everyone else's copy updates as well.

>From the startup side - with like 3 people on the project the
contribution of some software for project organization is questionable
at best. The overall attitude is geared towards doing stuff, not
managing stuff.

>From the free software side - the number of people on any given
project is limited to like 5. Most projects either have no more major
contributors or naturally decompose into multiple parts where the
number of people involved in any given part is very low. eg. the Linux
kernel has subsystems, ...
Very few people are major contributors to more than 1-2 projects at a time.

To organize an IRC session of 3-6 people is not overly difficult, and
given the nature of typical FS schedule model of "done when done"
there is no real press. The problem seems to lie more in lack of time
and contributors than in organizing contributors.

My personal observation has been that even with a tiny group, an email containing a list of action items very quickly yields a thread of dozens, or hundreds of follow-ups - requests for details, Q&A, status updates, nagging, ..... - and sorting through all that info is a real pain and time sink, not to mention confusing.

Now if that first message was "smarter" - so that responding updated the original (like editing a wiki page by email) - a lot of the pain and confusion would go away.

Note that most wikis are versioned, and some can use a vcs as backend
directly. So more permanent stuff not part of documentation that is
not to be fished in irc logs and mail archives typically ends up on a
wiki or a developer blog.

That nicely captures what I'm trying to accomplish. In a sense, TiddlyWiki meets Fossil-SCM built on HTML5 and a P2P protocol is kind of what I'm trying to achieve.

And I guess you are not reaching people. How would you reach people
through kickstart is a mystery to me, tbh. It's not like people
regularly look there thinking along the lines of "what am I going to
sponsor today?"

There are some communities where people look for tools. One place I've been pointed is the Agile community (as a result of this query), but yes.. finding clusters of people who are thinking about the problem is hard.

All in all if you are project manager you can try to develop a project
management software as a hobby but expecting $65k funding from random
people does not look realistic.

I'm kind of coming to that conclusion. On the other hand, Chris Granger raised $316k to build a better IDE (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ibdknox/light-table) - I'm trying to figure out if that's possible for a better PM tool.

Thanks folks,


In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.   .... Yogi Berra

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