Don’t cross the streams

By admin, posted on Feb 7th 2009

Over the Christmas period I had the chance to work on Brookmeyer – the new version of projectGenie – quite a lot, so the bulk of the system framework is now working. I’ve just started to write the first template files (Brookmeyer will support themes/templates in the same way WordPress does). I’m then going to tie the front and back-ends together using the template tag API. So far, so WordPress. I’m still trying to work out how to make plugins work, so no news on that yet.

However things haven’t stood still for Anderson, the currently available version of projectGenie. I’m in the process of adding a few new features which will soon be available in the demo and in the downloadable system. In a nutshell:

However there are still a couple of things I want to do with Anderson yet. Most importantly is get an upload progress indicator when attaching files to notes. This will use SWFUpload, I just need to iron a few problems out. I also want to add the ability for administrators to easily move notes to other tasks of they are in the wrong place.

Once I’ve got those two things sorted I’ll do some testing and get the new version of Anderson uploaded. I’ll also have a list of the modified files so those of you with existing installs don’t have to overwrite everything – just the stuff that’s changed.

Step by step writes the code

By admin, posted on Dec 18th 2008

Yes, too long etc. Anyway, things have actually Started (and I use a capital “S” because they really have started). I now have the beginnings of a framework for projectGenie that will allow people to develop their own themes, and even write plugins.

I’m being heavily influenced by the WordPress way of doing things, as learning from people that have trodden a road before is a wise thing to do. You’ll see the similarities if you’re familiar with the workings of WordPress (for example the projectGenie configuration file is called “pg-config.php”) and regarding themes you can of course copy the default one and amend it to your hearts desire.

As mentioned in my last post I’m going to make projectGenie an Open Source project, meaning anyone can download the full source code and amend it. Any changes must be released with the same license back to the community, then we all get to share the good times.

However that’s not going to happen just yet. Once I’ve got the basic system working with a simple plugin and theme architecture I’ll create a repository and put the details here. Until then I’ll try – I really will! – to keep this blog updated more often.

Alternatives to projectGenie

By admin, posted on Mar 12th 2008

It’s been so long since I posted anything here I’m embarrassed. However work on the next version of projectGenie (Brookmeyer) continues – albeit at glacial pace. I’ve been speaking with a couple of people recently about making it properly open-source, so that anyone can contribute to the project. I’m currently investigating options for that and will hopefully have some time to do something about it.

In the meantime the world still needs project management, so here’s a long list of both web and desktop software that may help you to organise your projects and tasks: http://tutorialblog.org/freelancers-manage-your-projects/

The mountain keeps growing

By admin, posted on Jul 18th 2007

You know that lack of time I was talking about? It’s now even more lacking. However despite that I have had chance to spend some time on the upcoming Brookmeyer release, and have finally nailed three important parts.

So from that you can tell I’ve made quite a bit of progress. There’s a long way to go, I still have almost every page to shuffle round so it looks better and is easier to use, but progress has been made.

In the meantime I have a bit of technical know-how that might help you out. A couple of projectGenie users have complained that they get SQL errors after installing the current version. If that’s you then don’t panic, it’s a problem to do with the configuration file (fixed in the new version to come). Going to ‘Configuration’ and clicking the update button (you don’t need to change anything, just click the button) will re-jig your installation and sort it right out.

Time, and the lack thereof

By admin, posted on Jun 11th 2007

Hmm. Things didn’t go according to plan this weekend. There was such a lot of client work to do I didn’t get time to do anything on Brookmeyer, the new version of projectGenie Which means I’m badly behind schedule, which means I won’t meet the (self-imposed) deadline on Thursday.

It’s a shame, but then I did set myself an almost impossible task. The good news is I’ve made loads of progress by giving myself a really short amount of time to Get Something Done, and I’m fired up to get even more done very soon. So, hopefully, it won’t be long before I’m cutting the digital ribbon on a whole new version.

Until then, if you’re one of the people looking forward to trying out Brookmeyer, then sorry. You’ll have to wait a little bit longer.

Learning from the gurus

By admin, posted on Jun 8th 2007

There is less than a week to go to the release of version Brookmeyer of projectGenie. In quite what state I’ll drag myself across the line I’m not sure, but I’m fairly pleased with progress. The install, database, templating, security and application modules are done, so I’m now just faced with modifying the actual display screens to be easier to use.

Speaking of user interfaces, those clever blokes over at 37signals have updated the dashboard of Basecamp again. Basecamp is their insanely popular project management system (over 1 million people have signed up!) and is a huge inspiration to me. Basecamp is projectGenie‘s main competitor, but seeing as I’m giving my software away for free, and they host theirs and take care of all the technical headaches, we’re not quite in the same market.

Their dashboard is now better than ever. Here’s a quick list of some of the goodies are;

As I mentioned, projectGenie and Basecamp are targeted at two different markets (OK, projectGenie isn’t really targeted at any market) so while there’s a lot to learn from the masters of lean, mean web applications, I won’t be copying it wholesale. That would be bad-mannered. Instead I’m going to try to be a little more selective in the graphical elements and layouts I choose (less icons, more simple lists, group things logically).

And, who knows, I may even get it done by the deadline.

Changes of plan

By admin, posted on Jun 4th 2007

So there I was, knee-deep in PHP and wondering what the hell I was thinking to set myself a challenge like this. To write, basically from scratch, a new version of a quite complex web application in just over 10 days. As if that’s not mad enough, I had other clients that need to be serviced as well. Life doesn’t stop just because of my whims.

So, depsite me saying that I wasn’t going to look at the templating system for projectGenie this time round, guess what I’ve done? That’s right, rewritten the templating system. Oh, and the installer.

There is method in my madness, you see. By having a better installer means that (hopefully) people will find it easier to start playing with projectGenie. I’m forever thinking about the users, me. And by sorting out the templating system (OK, so it’s a hybrid of a proper object-oriented templating system and my old procedural system) I can produce the rest of the system screens much more easily.

I’ve also added a simple database class so that I have a single point of failure, I mean access, to the database. And the menus are now dynamic, so people who aren;t meant to see certain section now can’t. Hurrah.

Still, to think that I’ve not even started on the list of things I’d said I’d do for version Brookmeyer … it’s a ludicrous escapade. If I make it I’ll be amazed.

And they’re off!

By admin, posted on May 31st 2007

I’ve started my ridiculous escapade of getting the Brookmeyer version of projectGenie live by my birthday on the 14th of June. I’ve already made a few decisions to limit the amount of huge under-the-cover redevelopment I’ll have to do (basically the templating system will be staying much the same) and now is the time to set out my stall for exactly what features will be added/removed.

In a nutshell:

  1. The main screen (can I call it the Dashboard? Not really…) will be redesigned, with the five or six current sections being replaced by three. The main one will show all notes to all projects that you have access to, with some options to filter them. Much better.
  2. I’ll be replacing the current clunky JavaScript library with prototype and Performer.
  3. Clean URLs for people who can use them. That will be configurable by the configuration options.
  4. And speaking of configuration options, I’ll be cleaning that up quite a lot. Basically there will be a standard set of configuration options, and a much more comprehensive advanced set of options.
  5. There will be redesigns for most of the screens, especially the client, contact and project screen.
  6. I’ll add some simple reports to help you manage projects.
  7. The help section will be updated and rewritten.

Seeing as I’m not sure I’ll have time to do even that little lot, there is only a very slim chance of any of this next list happening, but we live in hope.

  1. Simple financial management for projects: a total amount for different phases of each project, then details of any (possibly multiple) payments until the fee has been paid.
  2. Simple time management showing some kind of on-screen timer. This would be per-task.
  3. Start date and end date for tasks, allowing a simple Gantt chart to be shown.

There will be more information about my progress (or lack of it) over the next couple of weeks.

Making less more

By admin, posted on May 29th 2007

As you know, 37signals are big inspirations to me (hence my 37genies skin for projectGenie). A large part of their manifesto is “a belief in the beauty of less – features, options, employees, meetings, promises” (thanks Brian). Constraints are good, they cut out the clutter.

So I’m setting myself a constraints challenge. I’m limiting myself to just 16 days to get the bulk of the new projectGenie version ready for public use. That’s right, on June 14th (my birthday, by the way) version Brookmeyer will be live for playing with on this very site.

I’m not sure what features will make it, I’ll have to pick the ones that will make the most difference. Wish me luck 🙂

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