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Data Management

DIY: Activity Manager makes managing projects a breeze

Activity Manager is free, reliable, and simple to use project management tool that helps PMs keep track of collaborator time.

The free Activity Manager tool makes it incredibly easy to keep track of who has worked on a specific project or task, how many hours each worker has put in on a task, and how many total hours a project has to date. Activity Manager doesn't require a steep learning curve, but it does require the Java Development Kit (JDK), so if you're not a fan, turn away now.

Activity Manager's features

  • Released under BSD license
  • Durations repository administration
  • Collaborators repository administration
  • Tasks repository administration
  • Contributions management (=activity management)
  • Extensible report facility (with built-in templates)
  • XML database export/import
  • EXCEL export
  • Cross platform (Windows and Linux)

Run mode

Activity Manager can be run in three modes: Standalone, Database, or Custom. I think Standalone is the easiest mode to install. If you will be working with numerous and/or significantly large projects, I recommend the Database mode. The only database supported by Activity Manager is MySQL, so if you choose the Database mode, you will need to create your MySQL database. On a machine housing a working MySQL server, follow these steps:

1. Open a terminal window.

2. Issue the command 'mysql -u root -p  mysql' in order to connect to the mysql database.

3. Create the database with this command: create database <your database name>; (where your database name is the name of the database you want to use).

4. Give your MySQL user full privileges for the newly created database with the commands:

grant all privileges on <your database name>.* to <your user name>@'%' identified by '<your password>';

flush privileges;

You will need to remember the username/password you used for this database in order to connect Activity Manager to the database.

JDK

If you're using Linux as your platform, you should be able to open your Add/Remove Software tool, search for "java" (no quotes), select the Software Development Kit for installation, and click Apply (I tested this on Bodhi and Linux Mint 12). If you're using Windows, you will have to download the JDK from the Sun website and install it from the downloaded package that meets your requirements.

Once the JDK is installed, you are ready to download Activity Manager.

Starting the application

No installation is required for Activity Manager — you simply fire it up, set up the database, and begin work. I will be demonstrating Activity Manager on a Linux Mint 12 box. In order to start the tool, you need to unpack the .tar.gz file. After you download the binary, I highly recommend you follow these steps:

1. Open a terminal window.

2. Change to the Directory the binary was downloaded into.

3. Create a new directory (such as ActivityManager).

4. Move the .tar.gz file for Activity Manager into the newly created folder.

5. Change into the newly created folder.

6. Unpack the Activity Manager file with the command tar xvfz ActivityMgr_XXX_gtk_linuxXX.tar.gz (where XXX is the release number and XX is the architecture).

When you unpack the file, a number of directories and files will be unpacked in the directory. The directory you need to use to start the tool is the bin directory; within bin is the executable activitymgr.sh. Change into the bin directory and issue the command sh activitymgr.sh. This command will open the window where you create the database connection (Figure A). Figure A

This is the only window you work with to set up your "install" of Activity Manager.
Select your Database type (I will go with Standalone mode for my installation) and click Open Database. Activity Manager will immediately recognize that no database has been installed and will ask if you want a database to be installed (Figure B). Click OK and the db will be immediately added to the system. Figure B

Creating the database is as simple as clicking OK.
Next, you have to walk through the installation/initialization of the Default durations (.25, .5, .75, 1). After that is done, you are ready to begin using Activity Manager. Your first task will be to set up the tool according to your needs. For example, click the Collaborators tab, right-click an empty area, and select New Collaborator (Figure C). Figure C

Select New Collaborator from this drop-down menu.

Once you create a new collaborator, click each piece of information (Identifier, First Name, Last Name) and fill in the information. The only tabs you really need to set up are: Collaborators (who will be working on a project), Tasks (main project), and Sub-tasks (main project broken into smaller projects). Once you set up these tabs, you can add collaborators to a task, and then begin to keep track of hours each collaborator has worked on a specific task or sub-task.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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