There are various tools that help in managing a project online. Some are very flexible and unstructured (shared documents and calendars) while others are designed more specifically for project management.

A key question is how long it takes for a tool to become productive - giving benefits that outweigh the investment of time and energy taken to set them up. If it is in the order of weeks or months, then it this is probably to long for most volunteer projects, where contributors have a limited and uncertain amount of time (dropping out or being delayed is very common. In these cases, the most intuitive and easy to use options are best.

Appropedia wiki pages[edit | edit source]

Collaboration is strongly encouraged to be carried out on the wiki where possible. This allows others to support and learn from your work.

There are cases where some privacy is needed though, and for that, the following options are suggested.

Google Docs[edit | edit source]

Google Docs


  • WYSIWYG editing and shortcuts (e.g. ctrl+b for bold, ctrl+1 for header level 1)
  • Automatic saving as you work.
  • Allows collaborating on an article in real time.
  • Offline editing with Google Gears. Google Docs offline - the docs will automatically be synced next time you're online again. This is massively useful to anyone who is traveling, or working in places with poor or no connection, or who wants to edit while commuting, e.g. on a train. Or anyone who simply wants a change of scene, to work outside on their laptop.

It still has drawbacks:

  • No categorization. Pages are listed on your homepage like in a forum. However you can easily organize them in folders. A consistent naming system can also be used, e.g. a certain prefix for certain topics: E.g. TAN: for all documents related to your technical assistance network, or Fil:/Filter: for all water filter project pages, or Fin: for financial matters.
  • No table of contents (important for long documents). One technique that can make things a little easier to navigate in long documents is using different colors for headers, e.g. red for header 1 text and blue for header 2.
  • No simple hyperlinking.

Sharing files in Google Docs[edit | edit source]

Sharing can be controlled on a per file basis. Or, select multiple check boxes before clicking share. To share a whole folder, select the folder, and below the files select "All", then click "Share" at the top.

Email groups can be set up in your Google Docs if you regularly share files with the same people - these are separate from the groups that you may have in your Gmail account.


  • when sharing, you need to use the email address that the person uses to login to Google. (But they'll probably tell you if you get it wrong.)
  • if regularly sharing files, you may wish to not send a notice that you're sharing, unless you specifically want to let everyone know straight away.

Private pages on Appropedia Forum[edit | edit source]

The Appropedia Forum (in development) is able to provide private pages on request. Appropedia is more than happy to provide this service; however it doesn't have the advantages of Google Docs.

Currently the pages do allow most of the same formating as our wiki pages; however they are which are not structured in categories like a wiki, but rather listed like in a forum. There is also a tagging feature. This could be improved with effort if we wished to pursue this option.

If you wish to try this option, leave a message at User talk:Curtbeckmann.

Project management software[edit | edit source]

There's various project management software around, including the open source Project Pier.

Question: Are there any PM packages that offer the features of Google Docs, or integrate with it? I.e. make use of its features for shared documents, but within a project management structure... has anyone done such a thing? --Chriswaterguy 02:02, 14 May 2008 (PDT)

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