[UPHPU] planning, tracking, reporting, project management

Levi Pearson levipearson at gmail.com
Fri Jan 6 21:42:08 MST 2012

On Fri, Jan 6, 2012 at 3:02 PM, Wade Preston Shearer
<wadeshearer.lists at me.com> wrote:
> When it comes to projects/task management, I like less features than more and a nice, clean UI. If I'm going to be using something every day, it needs be easy and enjoyable. It also needs an iOS app (or at least a good mobile version).

... snip ...
> Any other tools you'd recommend?

Well, I use Rally at work, but not by my choice.  It's probably a bit
on the heavyweight side for what you're looking for, and I don't even
know if it has a mobile app.

What I use for my personal project tracking and time management is
emacs and org-mode.  I know, it sounds nothing like what you were
asking for, and probably you won't find it to be what you want, but
it's so incredibly useful to me I couldn't resist sharing it.

When you first enter org mode, it's got pretty much the cleanest
interface you can imagine--a blank screen with the emacs mode line at
the bottom.  At its most basic level, org mode is an outliner.  It
adds some uncharacteristically (for emacs) easy key bindings for
manipulating outline levels and whatnot, and of course you have the
full editing power of emacs to help out.  So you can jot down project
ideas in outline form pretty much as they occur to you.

Once you get some outline entries in a file, you can assign some
metadata to outline entries, including customizable TODO states, due
dates, tags, time tracking, etc.  And then the real cool time
management stuff comes into play.  It's got an agenda mode, in which
you tell it the org files to look in for entries, and it gives a
report based on the TODO items, scheduled due dates, etc. for a given
time period.  You can easily make custom agenda reports as well.

My typical usage is to throw a set of org files in a Dropbox folder,
so I have synchronized access on all of my computers.  But there is an
iOS app, MobileOrg, that gives you an agenda-like view of your tasks
and it interacts with org files on a WebDAV server.

For heavy-duty project management, it's got a taskjuggler export mode
that relies on adding certain metadata to your project outline.  You
can make it easy to enter and edit the metadata by switching to a
table view, which lets you use spreadsheet-like navigation to update
resources, effort estimates, task dependencies, etc.  You can then hit
the taskjuggler export, and tell taskjuggler to generate nice HTML
project reports.

I don't regularly use more than a fraction of the features that it's
got, but they don't get in the way when you don't use them.  It makes
a fine outliner, if you just want to jot down ideas, but it can also
make an excellent time management system that's tailored just for your
needs or just a simple to do list that synchronizes with your phone.

So, there you have it.  If you're curious, there have been a bunch of
screencasts/talks about it you could watch, including a Google Tech
Talk: http://orgmode.org/talks.html


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