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What is phpCollab Hosting?
If you're looking for an open-source internet-enabled project management solution that fosters collaboration you should really check out phpCollab. phpCollab is open-source, so it’s completely free. It’s internet enabled, so you install it on the server of your choice. It’s offers all the standard project management features and tools you would expect, and it is designed to foster collaboration between your organization and your customers.
Where phpCollab really shines is in instances where there needs to be separation between the firm managing the project (the firm-side) and customer (the client-side). This firm-side / client-side separation means that the firm can collaborate and make progress and only push information to the client-side site when they’re ready to do so.
phpCollab is written in PHP and uses a relational database, so just about any web server will provide the technology necessary to run the program. The program files and detailed installation instructions can be downloaded from the project’s Sourceforge page.
What is phpCollab used for?
Let’s say you’re a freelance software developer. Undoubtedly you involve your customers in the development process. How exactly do you do that? Well you could use sprawling email chains, file transfer services, and a combination of spreadsheets, word processing documents, PDFs, and phone calls. Or you could use a tool that’s built to replace all of that and streamline the process. That’s what phpCollab can do.
phpCollab enables you to create records for all of your projects with roadmaps of how to complete the project organized by phase, task, and subtask. You can use the space to provide updates to your customers in a controlled way: they only see what you push to their client site. And they can use the space to see what you’ve accomplished and provide feedback along the way. phpCollab is a way to manage project progress collaboratively.
What is unique about phpCollab?
phpCollab features can be broken into three categories:
- Project Teams
- Client Teams
Administration features include an installation process that is not overly complex, and flexible enough to accommodate firewalls and work on a corporate intranet or over the internet. In addition, phpCollab is built to be easily updated to newer editions. phpCollab offers a degree of control over the interface appearance with the availability of themes.
Admin users have the ability to manage users as well. They can set permissions levels for different types of users, track user activity, and limit file sizes uploaded to the project database.
The most recent version of phpCollab, version 2.5, added an invoicing feature to the application, and Newsdesk which can be used to publish articles within the application site with an optional RSS feed users can select to receive updates. Version 2.5 also added a system-wide email capability.
A support helpdesk is built in to phpCollab. The support system allows Project Team and Client Team members to request support, and admins can then respond to and manage the service requests. Bug tracking is accomplished through integration with Mantis, a free bug-tracking utility.
Project Teams within phpCollab are provided a site separate from the client site. This allows the Project Team to keep draft documents and discussions private from the Client Team while still enabling collaboration within the Project Team. Automatic notifications through email are available to keep the Project Team up to date on project changes. Complete control over the structure of the project lifecycle is also built in (phases composed of tasks which are made up of subtasks). A wide range of progress monitoring controls and tools are available to monitor task status, and compare estimated vs actual work completed. One tool is the integration of JPGraph which provides a graphical view of task progress.
Project teams can use phpCollab to store and share files, discuss items on a project bulletin board, and share useful website addresses using the bookmarks tool. They can also produce and view reports covering project statistics, and use the built in calendar to track assignments, and add milestones and project events.
Client Teams have their own site which allows them to keep up to date on project progress, provide feedback on progress, and send updates on the project requirements. Clients are able to view existing tasks and post new tasks for the Project Team to take on, upload files for the Project Team, and approve or edit files uploaded by the Project Team. A bulletin board is also provided to facilitate collaboration between the Project Team and Client Team, and if the project site ever has issues Client Team members can also create support requests and see responses from site administrators.
What does phpCollab cost?
phpCollab is completely free to download, install, and use. It is free and open-source software (FOSS). Since the technical requirements to run phpCollab are pretty standard to any web server (PHP and an SQL database) adding phpCollab to your hosting account shouldn’t add any cost to your hosting bill.
How do I install phpCollab?
Getting to the phpCollab installation instructions is a little tricky. First you’ll need to locate the project’s Sourceforge page. Once you’re at the Sourceforge page find the Files section and locate the Documentation folder. Installation instructions can be downloaded from the Documentation folder.
Installation is not difficult, but it does involve some technical steps. Before proceeding you’ll need to be comfortable with FTP, creating a database in your hosting account control panel, and changing file names and permissions. If you aren’t comfortable with those things, with the application files downloaded and the installation instructions in-hand, get in touch with your hosting provider for assistance.
phpCollab is written in PHP and needs one SQL database (MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Microsoft SQL Server are all OK). So as long as you hosting account can handle one more database it should be adequate to host a phpCollab installation.