Developers April 2, 2020

Project Management and Tracking - Best Tools

Wayne Eldridge @WayneEld

What are some of the best tools out there that you use to track and manage your projects as a solo developer? I have tended to stick with Trello (although I wish it had releases and versions). I find JIRA a bit too intense and you almost need a full-time project manager to manage JIRA. I have tired Github and Clubhouse to see what they offer but I haven't really found anything that truly fits what I am looking for.

Any suggestions?

  1. 3

    Try plain old offline notepad with a pen or a pencil (I personally prefer the latter).
    Notepad does not limit how and what you write. It could be ideal for non digital stuff: short tasks, things not to forget, quick drawing, reminders, plans.
    But don't take the first off the shelf. Buy few. With different quality, density and color of the paper. With or without lines. Find the one you'll be enjoying writing in.

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      I agree with you. The notebook was my start to productivity and management. I can recommend the "Bullet Journal" method which will help gradually enter into the productivity world.

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    I have been using Jira, Trello, and the likes for work a lot. I share you concerns about Jira. For personal projects, I found myself wanting a higher-level view of it all, starting from my very top-level goal and how it connects to all the low-level tasks. I explained this method in more details in a blog post:

  3. 2

    I love this thread!
    I Came here to read the comments and learn something new :)
    I'll add my opinion - I love Jira - I mean, everybody hates Jira but still uses it - but only when I manage more than 2-3 people in a project.
    When I'm working on my own or in a VERY small team I use Trello - it's missing a million features but it's small and fun.

  4. 2

    Hi! As a solo developer, my feeling is that the choice is very much about what works best with the rest of your life. Personally I have found that the more "churn" I have among different tools, the more my motivation and energy are affected.

    In my case, I "run" most of my life on Notion, so I tend to stick with Notion for personal projects as well. Is it a perfect PM tool? Hell no, all the ones you have mentioned are arguably better at the job. But being able to see all the things I have to do and their progress on the same tool really makes the difference for me.

  5. 2

    As a solo developer my project management stack:

    • Notion for documentation, road map, task board (like Trello), notes, feature list, cost tracking and much more.
    • Figma for design management. I keep here all icon, mockups, screenshots.
    • Clockyfy for time tracking. (I use toggle in the main job so I don't want to mix my trackings)
    • Bitbucket for code management.
      Bonus application. Tomato 2 for mac for a productivity boost.
      This stack works for me and it's cheap.
      If you think to scale up to the big team and have money I suggest think about Atlassian stack. Jira + confluence + bitbucket + Figma
    1. 1

      Thanks for the insight @Vilimas.

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    I am not a developer but these days I always recommend that everyone checks out It's a beautifully designed and customizable tool with an amazingly supporting community. I love the product and the company.

    I run an agency solo and I have everything in Notion.

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      Thanks for the suggestion @optemization. I will have a look at Notion.

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        Awesome! If you're into it, please use my referral link :) Happy to point you to good onboarding resources!

  7. 1

    Trello and/or GitHub/GitLab. Honestly that's enough.

  8. 1

    check redmine

  9. 1

    I use Asana. It is massive in the free version already. Paid version brings even more features. I do basically everything with Asana.

  10. 1

    For multiple people: Jira. It's just the best tool for the job.

    For solo projects: Gitlab.
    The free version of gitlab almost satisfies all my needs. "Related-issues" has just recently been added to this tier which was a very much needed feature. Marking an issue-relation as "blocking issue" is however part of higher tiers, as well as issue weight estimation. Those would be required for multi-people projects but for a solo project I can live without them.

  11. 1

    Hey @WayneEld, could you outline what you're looking for in a project management tool?

    (I use Jira, but I'm quite the power user — used to work at Atlassian)

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      JIRA is great but I don't find it intuitive. I always have to look in the docs for where functionality actually lies. It is all there but I find it difficult to use, to get going quickly and continue to move smoothly on JIRA. For example, I am a colour orientated person... Therefore having a label that is coloured, e.g bugs are red, features are green etc, would be a great feature. They don't support this, but they do support issue types with coloured icons. Now everything revolves around issue types for the colour orientated board.

      To answer your question explicitly... I am basically looking for the functionality and simplicity of Trello with a release or version feature to manage releases and changes logs.

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        Ah yes, seems like Notion is popping up as a viable option. I haven't tried their boards but that might do the job!

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    I thought the same about Jira a while back, but it's not that bad when you get used to it. I find it the best especially now they have the free tier. I moved from Trello and don't regret it.

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      Yeah it is a great tool but I found that I got frustrated when sinking in the time to get to know where everything is in the program. Maybe I will take a deep breath and give it another shot.

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    I like

    It's the only solution I've found that scales well (free for <3 users) and shows burndown charts without any extra work:
    Lakebed Burn Down

    I've also built information architecture for myself. I've ended up actually doing as JSON in the code comments. I then built a view that parses all the code files and pulls out the JSON code comments. I like this solution because it puts documentation and code next to each other:
    Lakebed Info Arch

    Finally, I've built a code comment search tool. So, I can add tags like //todo or //leftoff or //debug in the code and then parse those out:
    Lakebed Code Comments

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      Your “code comment search tool” made me think of, FYI.

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        Thanks, unfortunately I don't use GitHub, I have a local guy server setup at home for managing repos, branches, etc.

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      Awesome thanks for the suggestion. I will look at Yodiz. I was always looking for a tool that would run through the code and give a sum total of all the // todos and //fixme s in the code base, giving you a better idea of the quality of code that you are leaving behind.