activeCollab is a “web based, open source collaboration and project management tool” that aims to clone the functionality of BaseCamp, but allows the developer to run it on their own servers. I’ve wanted a package like this for quite a while, as I love what BaseCamp does, but I don’t want to rely on an outside service, nor do I want to pay a monthly fee as my project management needs are small (and not earning me any money to offset the cost). I also like the ability to hack the software and services that I use regularly. Having the files and database at my fingertips gives me the flexibility I need to do just that.
Now, this isn’t to say that this activeCollab a great solution for everyone – hell, it may not even be good for me (I haven’t tested it yet). BaseCamp is great at what it does – the raves from the community, including many people that I highly respect, shore up the reputation of BaseCamp, and its creators at 37Signals – but what I want out of a project management package or service doesn’t match up to what I’m willing to pay at the moment. Now, this could very easily change were I to create a sizable Web app and needed to work in parallel with a team, but I don’t see that in my near future.
I sincerely doubt that activeCollab will redefine the market, or impact BaseCamp. While they share part of a market, BaseCamp’s service model eliminates the need to install and maintain software giving it a very real edge when compared with activeCollab, especially for folks who do not have the time or inclination to fiddle with something that doesn’t directly contribute to the project at hand.
It’s all about the triangle: time vs. money vs. features.