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I am involved in different groups where volunteers are collaborating remotely on certain projects in their free-time.

To coordinate those projects, I am looking for an open-source web-based task/project management software that enables us to do the following:

  • Create tasks and assign them to people
  • Set deadlines for tasks
  • Hierarchically structure tasks (sub-tasks, sub-sub-tasks etc.)
  • Get an overview over all the tasks that are part of a project. The overview should show the status of a task (not done, working on it, done), the deadline, and who it is assigned to. Usually our projects are not that complex, so a task list would easily fit on one page.

Many of the volunteers spend only very little amount of time on the projects, only taking over a couple of small tasks if at all. Also, many of them are not that experienced working with computers. So the application needs to be very simple and accessible, fulfilling the following requirements:

  • Take very little time to open it. Ideally no registration needed. Perfect would be if a project could be accessed and edited by anyone who has its URL (à la Etherpad).
  • Take very little time to learn to use it, so an intuitive interface without too many functions not needed for our use case. This also applies to creating new projects/task-lists, which should ideally not require more steps than the click of a button and setting a name.

casual.pm almost perfectly resembles what I am imagining, but is unfortunately not open-source. Its user interface is a canvas on which you can draw a map of tasks. I could imagine that even a collaborative mind-mapping software could be suitable, as we don’t require any complex project management features, but all the mind-mapping programs that I have come across so far had far too many options to customise the visual layout.

I have also come across many Trello-like kanban-style task management applications. These are acceptable and I will probably use one of them if I don’t find anything better, but as far as I can tell, they are not particularly good at visualising the project timeline and task dependencies (which works much better with casual.pm, as you can just drag the tasks anywhere and draw arrows between them).

  • Welcome to Software Recommendations! While you're waiting for answers, may I recommend browsing our other project-management questions? There might be acceptable solutions already recommended (I'd link my answers on Trac here, but I'm afraid that might not fit your "less computer affine people") – Izzy Dec 17 '15 at 6:37
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    Taiga.io project claims to do the work you required. But I had no personal experience with it, only plans to use it – ayvango Dec 17 '15 at 6:50
  • @ayvango: Thanks for the tip. I had a look at it, but I think it is too complicated for people who don't use it frequently. There are many functions and buttons everywhere, and it is not clear on the first look what they do. – cdauth Dec 18 '15 at 18:16

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