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February 6, 2007

OpenSource Project Management with OpenWorkbench

I downloaded Open WorkBench (OWB) from CA Associates (formerly NIKU) and tried to convert some of my more useful MS-Project (MSP) projects to use in OWB. There is no direct conversion between the two embedded in either product. Each has their own internal format. However, they both use a standard .xml file format so this should have been fairly straightforward. No worries, as the Aussies say. Well, some worries.

It seems that the .xml validation, export and import process that each product uses may differ slightly. I tried a small (< 100 task file) trial and could move materials from MSP to OWB, I tried a larger file of > 500 tasks and > 50 resources, which failed, mostly due to basic validation errors in the file, since I had not cleaned up the file in MSP. OWB did not fail though, and simply said the file was bad. I then saved the smaller file, without any changes in OWB. Now I tried opening this same file in MSP. MSP had a coronary and restarted. Oh, well, so much for supporting even their own de facto standard.

Anyway, I looked though the OWB functions and find them to be quite intuitive or someone raised on MSP. I like the Gantt Chart, it is not too fussy. It seems to be easy to use, and has several views which work in a similar manner to MS-Project.

Unfortunately, I do see lots of enhancement requests, but I do not see any updates to the code since 2005 (v.1.1.4) so getting new functionality may be a pipe dream.

The .XML file format for a Project is based on MSP’s version as a de facto standard. It would be nice if a more robust standard something like the Project Management XML Schema consortium which is maintained and documented as PMXML by Virtual Projects. It should be noted that Primavera does not seem to support PMXML either, but one lives in hope.

Posted by alexfiteni at February 6, 2007 8:42 PM


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