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Project management capability now available in freeware

Gantt-charting software has traditionally been expensive, but now there's a freeware tool that can perform project management.

Gantt-style project management charts are timelines that indicate how much progress has been made in a given project. They allow managers to map out phases of a project and organize the work to be done in each phase.

Gantt-charting software has been expensive; for instance, Microsoft Project costs a few hundred dollars. However, a feature-rich competitor, which has been in development since 2003, is now available, and is both free and open source: GanttProject 2.0.

GanttProject requires the presence of Java JRE 1.4 or higher to run, and it includes distributions both with and without the runtime engine. The program's features include: PERT charts; critical paths; multiple levels of undo/redo for all actions; the ability to define working days (such as skipping weekends); creating multiple resources such as work teams; and the ability to compare different iterations of the same project.

The package also offers compatibility with Microsoft Project files. You can save GanttProject files as Microsoft Project and read in existing Microsoft Project files. However, you should experiment with any existing Microsoft Project files to determine the level of compatibility for the current version of the program.

The program has some limitations. It can't work with any increment of time smaller than a single day -- the program's authors have made it clear that it is a project management system and not a calendar/diary solution. Also, the resource roles for projects cannot yet be directly edited in the program, but you can edit them through the program's option file.

About the author:  Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators.

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