Re: [Planner Dev] Niku Open Workbench

Chris Ladd wrote:
I just read an article in Infoworld, available online at, which
talks about how a company called Niku has just decided to open source
their MS Project like product called "Workbench" and make it available
for free. Supposedly, this product runs under both Windows and Linux.
The website for "Open Workbench" is at

I wanted to bring this to the community's attention to find out:

1. Has anyone ever used Niku Workbench?

I've just registered. Its a 20 Meg download for Windows. Requires
JRE 1.3.1 or later. On first impressions I think we can safely say that
Planner is easier for someone who wants to create a list of tasks and add
resources and look at a gantt.

I'll do some screen grabs as I work it out. It saves files which are
zipped but within that zipped file  there are a number of non-obvious
binary files.

It looks nice - not as "usuable" as MS Project and I suspect its really
killer features kick in with the rest of the Niku product suite.

2. Do you think we should investigate this program and see if we can
"borrow" any ideas from them?

You can *always* borrow ideas except they have one of those ticking
timebombs of thinking about patents for the scheduling. They are not
open sourcing their scheduler - that'll be provided in a binary-only.

One thing that would be very nice for us is to confirm costings
and stuff for projects. We could also borrow the field names and
ranges. I'll also be borrowing results on costings as I look at
my multi-currency stuff, though their multi-currency support
looks too US-centric; again maybe when it connected to their server
its better.

I think its great that we have a nice reference package that
costs nothing in cash to play with.

3. Does anyone think this new open source project will make Planner

Given the market it targets and the difficulty of first use and
the fact its not yet on Linux then no.

The press state....
"It is true that Microsoft Project 2003 is targeting the enterprise
space but from bottom up; while Workbench is heavy duty, more for
the elite project managers," said Melinda Ballou senior research
analyst at Meta Group.

Thst gives it away - we are not its target. I suspect that
MS Project 2003 and the Project server are starting to hurt Niku
so the response is right to commoditise one bit of the suite
and hook in enterprise users to the rest of the product suite.
MS Project treading into Niku's market is their problem and this
is their response.

The license is Mozilla. So we still retain our particular territory
and licensing regime but it raises awareness of Open Source in
this area of Project management so its great as many people do
worry when there is only one product of a particular development
methodology to choose from in on a particular platform.

If Postgresql, Mysql, and Firebird can all live together or if
Galeon, Konqueror, Mozilla, Firefox can also live together then
Planner and openworkbench can too whenever it comes to Linux.
If they segment the Windows market then the same segmentation
will work for Linux except that we don't have MS Project to
worry about on our turf so truthfully I don't expect them on
Linux that quickly.

This move by Openworkbench will help spoil MSP on Windows and
provide a nice cross-platform capability but only when it comes
to Linux. When it does then we should support their market
segmentation model by making sure we have suitable import/export


- Chris


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