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What is dotProject?

dotProject is an open-source web-based project management application that offers end-user management, a full-featured trouble ticket and support system, client and company management, task creation, a project file repository, calendar management, and a complete discussion forum. In addition, with dotProject you can add or restrict access to resources by applying user permissions. This is particularly useful if you have clients directly interacting with projects. Further, client and company management is useful in organizing projects and creating client-only spaces for updates and team communication with clients

What is dotProject used for?

dotProject can be used to keep track of any project that includes a series of tasks that must be completed in a specific related order.

The minimum requirement for any project management application is to create a series of tasks and an associated schedule to achieve the project's goals. dotProject accomplishes this and also offers many other standard and add-on features.

Website owners use dotProject for a wide range of purposes. It is used by individuals to manage their daily workload, by construction companies to manage progress on construction projects, by engineering companies to keep track of project progress, and by many other individuals and organizations for many other purposes. If a series of tasks must be completed in a specific order dotProject can be used to manage the process.

What's unique about dotProject?

The basic dotProject installation pack is a full-featured project-management application. It includes an extensive set of core modules which support the following standard features:

  • User management
  • Email based trouble ticket system
  • Client and company management
  • Project listings
  • Project file repository
  • Contact list
  • Calendar
  • Project discussion forum
  • Resource based permissions

These core modules are all part of the standard dotProject installation and included by default. The dedicated volunteer users and supporters of dotProject have also created many add-on modules for the following added functionality:

  • Help desk module
  • Hosting module
  • Import and export module
  • Invoicing
  • Risk management
  • Timesheet management

Keep in mind that while the core modules are supported by the official dotProject administration team, the add-on modules have been created and are supported by end-users and must be downloaded and installed separately from the basic dotProject installation.

dotProject is also unique because it is focused entirely on project management instead of attempting to mimic a full content management system. In this regard dotProject is directed towards internal audiences, and as such is typically hosted on secured websites to be accessed by authorized users only.

What does dotProject cost?

It is completely free. dotProject is an open-source program meaning that it is developed by a team of dedicated volunteers, and available free-of-charge for use and further development. User support for dotProject is also free, and is provided through the user forums hosted on the dotProject website.

Why choose dotProject?

Most dotProject users chose the application for three reasons:

  • It meets their technical requirements.
  • It is free.
  • It is hosted by their chosen hosting provider giving the end-user a greater degree of control over the data stored within the application database.

One other benefit offered by dotProject is that it is a web-based application that runs in the users browser. This means that by using dotProject you have sidestepped potential issues of compatibility that might arise with software installed on various computing platforms, while still allowing your team access to the rich features usually found in dedicated, locally-installed applications.

How do I install dotProject?

Many hosting companies offer one-click installation of dotProject via the hosting control panel. For those hosting companies that don't offer one-click installation manual installation is an option. In order to manually install the program the installation files are first downloaded from Sourceforge and then uploaded to the website folder where you want the application to run. Once the files have been uploaded a specific installation file must run for the application to be correctly installed. Detailed instructions for manual installation are available from documentation files at the dotProject website.

Also keep in mind that many potential uses for dotProject will include proprietary and private information and messages. As such, it's important to install dotProject in a location that is appropriately protected, and intended for internal use only.

Alternatives to dotProject

There are many potential alternatives to dotProject. The most well-known alternative, and the one to which dotProject is most often compared, it Microsoft Project. However, there are many other potential alternatives to dotProject which fall into three major categories:

  • Client-based applications: these applications run on you computer and update at set intervals. Microsoft Project is best-known application in this niche.
  • Web-based solutions that run on a server managed by the provider of the project management application: these applications are hosted by the application provider. They take a lot less time to get up and running, by also generally don't provide the same level of control over the project files and database. Popular alternatives in this arena include Gantter, Basecamp, and Wrike.
  • Web-based solutions that run on your server: dotProject runs on server space you purchase from your hosting provider. Alternatives that fit this profile include LibrePlan, OpenProject, RedMine, and web2project.
  • web2project is the most comparable alternative to dotProject. This is true primarily because the original version of web2project, launched in 2009, was a forked and only slightly modified version of the dotProject application. Since that time web2project has grown into an entirely new application with only the smallest commonality with dotProject.

    dotProject Pros and Cons

    Since dotProject is web-based software compatibility issues are not a concern. Also, since the application is hosted by the hosting company of your choice, and since you will have full access to all application and project files, use of dotProject will provide greater control of the database and server than use of a web-based solution hosted by the application developer.

    As an open-source application, dotProject is free and highly customizable for those with the requisite skills. However, this means that a certain amount of technical skill is needed to get dotProject up and running, and to customize it to match your needs.

    dotProject was last updated in July of 2013. As of April 2015 no future updates to dotProject had been announced.

    Points to Remember

    dotProject is a full-featured open-source project management application that is favorably compared to industry-heavyweights such as Microsoft Project.

    Since dotProject is free open source software support is available through user forums located at the project website. Since the application has not received an update since 2013 activity on the support forum is limited.

    As a server-side application that is hosted by your hosting provider, getting dotProject up and running will take more technical knowledge than some other web-based solutions that are hosted by the application developers hosting provider.

    Server Requirements

    Most servers will have no problem running the dotProject application files. At a minimum, the server must support the PHP HyperText Preprocessor (PHP) language (the application is written in PHP), and offer a a database management application such as MySQL (Structured Query Language). Most hosting providers support these natively. The dotProject website recommends a Linux configuration, with Apache, PHP and MySQL for optimal results, but versions for Windows and other operating systems are available as well. Just be sure to check with your hosting provider before adding this or any other third-party software to your Web server.

dotProject Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is dotProject?

    DotProject is an open-source project management solution developed by volunteers. It was designed as an alternative to Microsoft Project, and since it is open source, dotProject is available as a one-click install on many hosting plans.

  • How does it compare to Microsoft Project?

    Unlike Microsoft Project, dotProject is free and open-source. It uses a similar user interface to Microsoft Project but also includes additional project management functionality. Of course, since it’s an open source project, there is no commercial support

  • What do I need to use dotProject? Are there any special server requirements?

    Server requirements are modest since everything this is an open source solution designed for maximum compatibility. Basically, all you need is PHP and MySQL. Antiquated PHP and MySQL versions are not supported. You need PHP 5.0 or higher, as well as MySQL 4.1 or higher. This is a non-issue on today’s servers.

  • Can I use dotProject on my Windows server, or is it just for LAMP environments?

    Yes, you can use dotProject on Linux and Windows servers. It can run on Windows, Apache, MySQL and PHP (WAMP), as well as Windows, IIS, MySQL, PHP (WIMP) platforms. Of course, it can also be used on Linux-based LAMP server implementations.

  • Which version of Apache does my server need?

    If you are running Windows, the developers suggest you go for one of the PHP/Apache/MySQL bundles such as Apache2Triad. However, you need to check the documentation for the latest spec and make sure that you install the right version. On Linux servers, you will need Apache 1.3.27 or later. Apache2 is only recommended in post 2.0.49 releases.

  • So, is IIS supported or not?

    Officially, IIS is not supported and the dotProject team claims it will never be an officially supported environment. However, you can still go ahead and install dotProject on an IIS server, although you may find support lacking (you will have to rely on other IIS users for help if something goes wrong).

  • What about support in general? Can I expect professional support for dotProject?

    Not really. The community handles support questions, so day to day support is provided free of charge, by volunteers. Developers advise users to check support forums for questions raised by others, just in case the issue was already covered. You will have to rely on the community for support, and there is no commercial-grade support, available around the clock.

  • How big is the dotProject community anyway? Will I be able to find enough users eager to help?

    Although dotProject is a niche solution and not a huge open-source project like some, there is a vibrant and growing community behind the project. It is estimated that there are upwards of 50,000 users worldwide, and as many as 500 new downloads each day.

  • How about some dotProject pros and cons?

    Since it is open source, this is definitely a bit “pro” for dotProject. The user interface is good, and the whole package is user friendly. DotProject also features good task management functionality and a lot of features out of the box. Since it is web-based, dotProject does not suffer from a lot of compatibility issues. The biggest downside is that dotProject simply lacks some abilities offered by competing suites.

  • How does dotProject compare to Open Workbench?

    Open Workbench is a more comprehensive solution, and it can also read Microsoft Project files. It has a lot of advanced features that you won’t find in dotProject. However, if you don’t need these features, dotProject is a good alternative. Open Workbench is not ideally suited to small projects and companies, and there is a steep learning curve.

  • What about OpenProj vs. dotProject? How do they compare?

    OpenProj is a free tool, but some features are only available for premium members, so it’s not entirely free and if you need advanced features, you will have to spend a bit of money. OpenProj is designed for Windows and has a user interface similar to Microsoft Project, which makes it easy to use (but it’s limited to Windows environments).

  • Is GanttProject a better alternative?

    It depends on what you need. GnattProject is a free tool with the ability to import and export Microsoft Project files. It also supports milestones, can export .xml files and is suited for small projects. However, functionality is limited and the user interface may be too much for novice users.

  • Which license is dotProject published under? Will I incur any additional costs?

    Versions 1.x were published under the BSD license, while versions 2.0 are published under GPL v2. In other words, dotProject is free to use and licensing should not be an issue. You won’t incur any additional costs if you choose to install it.

  • How do I install dotProject?

    As of version 2.0, manual installation is pretty much of the table. Developers suggest automated installs, via the web-based installation program, which needs to be run in order to correctly instantiate permissions. Unless the web installation option is used, you won’t be able to log in. A comprehensive guide that covers each step of the automated installation process is available on the dotProject wiki.

  • Is dotProject available via Softaculous? What about backups?

    Yes, dotProject is available via Softaculous and many hosts offer it as a one-click install. Every time you decide to upgrade an existing installation of dotProject, you need to make sure that your data and SQL schema are backed up and can be restored.

  • Where are the application files hosted?

    The dotProject files have been hosted at Sourceforge since 2001. The application files can be downloaded from Sourceforge for manual installation, and that is also the community where open-source development of the program is enabled.

  • What is the current status of development of dotProject?

    As of May 2015 the most recent update was more than 20 months ago in July of 2013. While the support forums were still active as of May 2015 there was nothing on the website that would indicate ongoing development of the application.

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