Tag Archives: Mac

February 2016, “Staff Pick” Project of the Month – ProjectLibre

Project Libre LogoFor our January “Staff Pick” Project of the Month, we selected ProjectLibre, an open source replacement of Microsoft Project. Marc O’Brien, ProjectLibre’s co-founder, shared his thoughts about the project’s history, purpose, and direction.

SourceForge (SF): Tell me about the ProjectLibre project please.
ProjectLibre Team: ProjectLibre’s mission is to be the open source replacement of Microsoft Project. Our users can open existing Microsoft Project files in ProjectLibre and you don’t lose any data and it is available on Linux, Mac or Windows.

SF: What made you start this?
ProjectLibre Team: I started the company with our CTO ( Laurent Chreteinneau). We have worked together for many years and had a previous company that we built and was acquired. We were pleased being acquired but it cut short our mission of offering the world an open source alternative to the proprietary offerings like Microsoft Project. The base cost of the product is ~$1,000 but in actuality far exceeds this number. The software stack required to implement for a team requires licenses and CAL’s for Project, ProjectServer, SharePoint, SqlServer, BI and Project Web App. It is costly and complex. Our mission is to provide a free desktop version that can replace their desktop version and a cloud version that is similar to what Google Docs has relating to Word. We are getting ready to launch a cloud version that is simply a login with your browser with collaborative features similar to the Google Apps. Btw, project management is a fascinating discipline with universities now offering Ph.D’s!

SF: Has the original vision been achieved?
ProjectLibre Team: Our vision has been partially achieved. The desktop release of ProjectLibre has been a major success. We have a lot of work to do but ProjectLibre has been downloaded from Sourceforge over 2,000,000 times in over 200 countries. The team is really pleased to see that impact globally. We have organizations like the Clinton Foundation and other NGO’s using ProjectLibre in Africa on projects. There are governments like the Kingdom of Cambodia using ProjectLibre for building out the school system around their country. That brings significant pride to the team as our vision and mission is making a difference! ProjectLibre has been translated into many languages so we are also reaching international users in their native languages. Our cloud version to remove the complexity and cost of the proprietary stack is still a work in progress.

SF: Who can benefit the most from your project?
ProjectLibre Team: Project Management is a horizontal application so it is utilized in a wide variety of industries and governments. ProjectLibre is also being used extensively in many Fortune 500 companies but also globally in many small businesses. We regularly get emails from organizations thanking us for providing open source project management software. The costs for proprietary software in project management is an enormous impact. We give them the opportunity to deploy those costs on core business initiatives.

SF: What core need does ProjectLibre fulfill?
ProjectLibre Team: Managing projects from small initiatives so large complex projects. There are project timelines, Gantt charts, cost management, resource usage and many other items required to effectively deliver a project. ProjectLibre has the full capabilities to deliver comprehensive management of the project to deliver on-time and on-budget.

SF: What’s the best way to get the most out of using ProjectLibre?
ProjectLibre Team: ProjectLibre is similar to Microsoft Project so the learning curve for many people is low. Those that have existing Project files can simply open them in ProjectLibre and keep going. If there are additional training needs there is online documentation and videos on our community website. We also are coming out with a new website this month and want to thank the and the Drupal community for the assistance! We will continue to have regional community groups on the new website so users can join and participate. Our community is quite active in the groups and discussion forums. We also really enjoy interacting with the community and hearing the user stories.

SF: What has your project team done to help build and nurture your community?
ProjectLibre Team: We designed our current and future website in Drupal with a community orientation. There is a global community group with over 50,000 members but also regional groups our users can join. We have a new website and one of our 2016 resolutions is to really continue engaging the community with blogs, emails, discussions etc!

SF: Have you all found that more frequent releases helps build up your community of users?
ProjectLibre Team: That is a great question. We have been completely re-writing ProjectLibre to a modular architecture. That has unfortunately caused less updates to the old code base than we would like. It is a balancing act as it causes a delay in our overall re-write which everyone is looking forward to getting done. We get lots of requests for integrations and other items. It will be nice later in the year to have frequent releases.

SF: What was the first big thing that happened for your project?
ProjectLibre Team: I can think of a couple of items early on that helped ProjectLibre. The SourceForge team has been really supportive from the start. We have been in the open source space for awhile and that helped promote our initial release. We also received early assistance from Red Hat who hosted our website and community on OpenShift. The FFWagency and Drupal ecosystem also reached out to get our community website up and running. This allowed us to focus on the product.

SF: What helped make that happen?
ProjectLibre Team: The open source community including SourceForge and RedHat are so giving and helpful. It is one of the things that draws me into the other open source communities such as Drupal for instance.

SF: What is the next big thing for ProjectLibre?
ProjectLibre Team: It is interesting I sent the community a message when we hit our 100,000 download milestone. That was big as we knew it would be popular. We then have followed up when we hit 1,000,000 and now 2,000,000. Our next milestone will be the upcoming beta release of our cloud version!

SF: How has SourceForge and its tools helped your project reach that success?
ProjectLibre Team: SourceForge has been wonderful to the ProjectLibre team. Roberto, Rich and the other team members have been encouraging and helpful from the start. It has been a long haul! The ProjectLibre downloads are on Linux, Mac or Windows, the detection of OS has been accurate and assists our community. We also enjoy the download map and statistics both by operating system and countries. As a global traveler, it is wonderful to see the download map on SourceForge as we hit virtually the entire world with downloads.

SF: What is the next big thing for ProjectLibre?
ProjectLibre Team: We are rewriting ProjectLibre with a modular architecture. This should provide a much easier codebase to get community contributions. We are also releasing the cloud based solution that we hope generates our first revenue so we can work full time and accelerate the development. The cloud version is similar to Google Apps as teams can see real time changes while working together.

SF: How long do you think that will take?
ProjectLibre Team: It has been frustrating as we had expected corporate sponsorship from our Fortune 500 user friends. It did not happen so we are well behind schedule and from a project management company is frankly quite upsetting. We are looking to release the cloud version in the first half of the year. If we can then go full time it will compress the other work significantly.

SF: Do you have the resources you need to make that happen?
ProjectLibre Team: It has been a struggle as mentioned. I have so much respect for all the other open source projects that people volunteer and contribute. It is a significant professional and personal sacrifice and when you see the amazing efforts. My co-founder Laurent Chretienneau is amazing with his talent and energy. Having Laurent on the team means we are well set to make it happen 🙂

SF: If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently for ProjectLibre?
ProjectLibre Team: We would have looked at the cloud version initially or pursued corporate sponsorship more aggressively to allow us to focus on ProjectLibre entirely.

SF: Is there anything else we should know?
ProjectLibre Team: The team has been fortunate to have worked together for many years. We have a passion for both project management and making a difference in the world. Our way to help is providing free and open source project management software. We have built and sold previous companies. Our commitment internally is to make this a long term effort so we can fulfill our mission. There will be speedbumps for ProjectLibre and our community. Our commitment long term is to continue delivering!

[ Download ProjectLibre ]

The OS Wars: We Have A Winner

Amy Vernon (@AmyVernon)

Update: See this post about the “unknown” and “other” categories in the stats below.

It’s clear who has won the OS wars: The user.

Just a few short years ago, Apple computers were little more than afterthoughts outside of artists’ circles. They certainly were not the go-to computers for anyone serious about programming or software development. That was left to the Windows and Linux users.

At conferences, on Sourceforge, and in other open-source communities, the OS battle to be fought was clearly Windows vs Linux. Those who liked Microsoft could call upon the massive numbers of users. Those who preferred Linux could hold themselves up as the true standard-bearers of open source.

You would not have shown your face at, say, ApacheCon, with a MacBook.

In conversation with none other than SourceForge’s new Community Growth Hacker, Rich Bowen (from whom I shamelessly stole the opening sentence of this post), it’s clear the open source community has matured to the point where the platform matters little – it’s the product, the result, that’s important.

We combed through about two years’ worth of data on SourceForge, looking at the platforms of the users who downloaded projects, and millions more Mac users are downloading open source projects now than were in February 2010. In the same time, Windows downloads have increased by a much smaller percentage and Linux downloads have actually declined.

Windows stats

Mac Stats

Linux Stats

And let’s not forget those in the “other” category where the operating system of the folks who downloaded was unknown:

Other stats

There were a few data points I found especially interesting, though a bit puzzling: April appears to be a slow month for downloading software on Sourceforge. If you look at all platforms, for each year, there was a significant dip in downloads.

Why? Perhaps it’s Spring fever. Given the fact that it’s an across-the-board dip two years running has some statistical significance. We’d need more information – and data from more years – to determine just what that significance is, though. I’d love to hear theories from readers in the comments, though.

Full stats
A column on oStatic last year dissected the complex relationship Apple has had with open source, and pointed out how it made sense that Apple both used open source in its operating system and contributed code back to the community.

Apple isn’t big enough to control the programs people will use on their computers, the author pointed out, so the best alternative was to help ensure no one could, as Microsoft very nearly did in the 1990s. Helping keep the open source community robust helps prevent another near-monopoly like Internet Explorer was in that decade.

The Sourceforge downloads data aren’t the only stats that show the rise of the Mac in open source.

Evans Data Corp. this summer released a survey that showed Mac had surpassed Linux as a development platform. The survey, conducted in June, was of 400 professional software developers. While developers are still targeting Linux for development more than Macs, they’re using Mac as the actual platform more.

The developers are increasingly making their software good across multiple platforms, too. A good deal of Sourceforge downloads are on two, three or more platforms.

A cursory survey showed that most projects downloaded primarily for one or two platforms appeared to be much more utilitarian than those downloaded on all three platforms.

Projects such as TortoiseSVN and WinMerge are popular with Windows users. iTerm is popular with Mac and Linux users, enabling the setup of a Mac terminal emulator. Fink, naturally, is downloaded by Mac and Linux users, as it eases the integration of open source projects into their Mac and Darwin environments. X-Chat Aqua brings IRC to Mac and Linux.

An exception to this trend appears to be Linux users, who love downloading UTube Ripper, which allows them to download YouTube videos and convert them. Not altogether surprising that Linux users bucked the trend, though, given that common sense would say they’re much more likely to seek out open source for most of their software needs.

On the flip side, many of the programs downloaded regularly by users regardless of platform tended to be more for alternatives to expensive proprietary software and therefore more useful to a wide variety of people.

Projects such as Audacity for audio editing, Gimp (Windows and Mac versions) for image editing, Sweet Home 3D for virtual interior design, Celestia for 3D visualizations of outer space and Hugin for panorama stitching and processing showed up as big downloads for Microsoft, Mac and Linux.

What will be an interesting statistic down the road will be where iOS and Android downloads start increasing. As tablets grab hold of more of the market, more open source projects will be made available for those OS and the smartphone OS – of which Apple and Android are the most common. No doubt, some of the downloads in the “other” category are for those OS.

It’s heartening to see so much diversity in the open source community – the idea behind open source is, after all, freedom of choice.

Amy Vernon was a professional newspaper journalist for 20 years before working as a freelance writer and consultant for a variety of publications. She has covered open source for the enterprise for Network World and consumer technology for Hot Hardware, among other sites. She uses Adium, Open Office, NeoOffice, Sea Monkey and other open source programs on a near-daily basis.