Software

DIY: Use the free WebCollab software to manage projects

The free and user friendly WebCollab collaboration server software can help your company manage projects of all sizes and scopes.

Collaboration can make or break any size project in any industry. Unfortunately, a lot of collaboration software doesn't offer enough flexibility to serve the needs of the many (as opposed to the needs of the one).

While scouring the web for a flexible collaboration tool, I found WebCollab. The free software allows you to set up a collaboration server so anyone with access to the address can log in and manage their pieces of the project puzzle. Besides the usual project management features, WebCollab also offers some interesting features that I haven't found in similar tools, such as:

  • RSS feeds
  • Email
  • Built-in security
  • Remote database support
  • Complete customization
  • Totally web-based

Requirements

  • OS: WebCollab has been confirmed to work on: Windows, Linux, Solaris, Mac, FreeBSD
  • Web Server: Apache with PHP >= 5.1 (must also have mbstrings compiled in with PHP)
  • Database: MySQL >= 4.1.3, Postgresql >= 7.2, Mailserver (optional)
  • WebCollab supports almost any SMTP-compliant mailserver.

So, regardless of your platform (unless you are running some obscure BeBox or Haiku operating system), you should be able to get WebCollab up and running.

Installation

I will demonstrate the installation on a Linux box; it should be fairly simple to translate the installation process for another platform. Follow these steps:

  1. Download the archive file from the WebCollab download page.
  2. Move the archive into the document root of your web server (in the case of Ubuntu and Apache2, that's /var/www/).
  3. Unpack the archive with the command sudo tar xvzf webcollab-XXX.tar.gz (where XXX is the release number).
  4. Rename the newly created directory from webcollab-XXX to webcolab with the command sudo mv webcollab-XXX webcollab (where XXX is the release number).
  5. Change the permissions of the /var/www/webcollab/config/config.php file with the command sudo chmod 666 /var/www/webcollab/config/config.php.
  6. Change the permissions of the /var/www/webcollab/files with the command sudo chmod 666 /var/www /webcollab/files/.
  7. Open a web browser and point it to http://ADDRESS_TO_SERVER/webcollab/setup.php.
  8. Walk through the web-based installation. When you're asked if you want the installer to create the database for you, you should allow it to happen because that will create the necessary tables and permissions on the database. You'll also have to create an admin user/password; you'll have to log in with those credentials to finish setting up your site.

Once the installation is complete, log in to your new WebCollab (Figure A). Figure A

Your first task is to create a new project.

Before create a new project, you need to complete the following tasks in this order:

  • Create Task Groups: Task Groups allow you to refine which users are used for which tasks.
  • Users: You must add users; otherwise, the project will not be able to have users assigned to it.

Both options can be found from the home screen. Create Task Groups by clicking Add under Task Groups and then add Users by clicking Add Under (surprise) Users.

Once you complete these steps above, it's time to create your first project, which is incredibly easy to do and intuitive that I don't feel I need to walk through the steps here. I will turn my attention to creating RSS feeds.

RSS

The RSS for WebCollab is a bit different than standard RSS because it requires a password protection scheme; this is done with the help of .htaccess. You must create an .htaccess file within the /var/www/webcollab/rss/ directory. The contents of this file will look like:

AuthType Basic

AuthName "WebCollab"

AuthUserFile /etc/apache/passwd/passwords

AuthGroupFile /etc/apache/passwd/groups

Require group GroupName

You will configure the above to suit your needs, and the user and group password files must be set up. Once it's configured, each user will be able to connect to their feed (using authentication) with the following urls:

Learn more

For more details, the WebCollab site features an outstanding FAQ, Installation Help, Getting Started Help, and an Online Demo.

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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